sudden impact yur ass!

We should all be thankful that we still have Clint Eastwood. The man’s been working for close to 70 years. He’s an absolute legend.

The Hollywood GOAT?

Seriously, think about that. He’s an accomplished actor AND director. It’s a career that will never be topped. Ever.

Many have tried, notably Sylvester Stallone, but it’s just not possible. (To be fair to Stallone though, Eastwood was in much more competent hands earlier in his career between Sergio Leone and Don Siegel).

This being said, Eastwood isn’t the most innovative director. In fact, when he does make a great film, it’s as though he accidentally did so. His two universally acclaimed films, Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby, are mostly great because of their scripts (same with The Outlaw Josey Wales). Gran Torino appears to be a film with a lasting cultural impact, and while I wouldn’t say it had an outstanding script or direction, the movie works because of Eastwood’s personality, not because of anything he did behind the camera. But I’d say that Eastwood is to filmmaking what Steve Kerr is to the NBA…he’s extraordinarily competent.

Of course, when you go through a stretch where you’re making a movie ever 20 minutes, it’s hard to maintain quality.

Sudden Impact is one of the million Eastwood movies that gets lost in the shuffle. With a story from pioneering independent filmmaker and Arkansas legend Chuck B Pierce, this Dirty Harry sequel has our favorite 44 Magnum carrying San Francisco investigator being more dirty than usual. Eastwood’s then-wife Sandra Locke costars as woman exacting revenge against men who raped her 10 years earlier. I’d say that this is the best Dirty Harry sequel. Nay, this sequel is better than Dirty Harry, a film that defined raw 70s cop dramas.

What makes Sudden Impact so memorable is not the plot, I don’t remember if there was one, or character development or any of that bullshit. No, what makes this film great is watching Eastwood stumble from one scene to the next just absolutely beating the shit out of and shooting everyone. EVERYONE. To top it off, he runs around with a farting bulldog. He also kills a guy by just giving him a heart attack for fucks sake. Eastwood is just a straight up asshole, more so than usual for Dirty Harry. It’s probably that greatest Cannon film not produced by Cannon.

The film feels as though Eastwood didn’t want to return to the role and the only way they could convince him is if they allowed him to direct. And it payed off. Some of the best films made from this period were done when no one gave a shit. But Eastwood’s direction gave this entry an added edge, which is probably why Sudden Impact feels so different from the other Dirty Harry films.

While we still have him, I wish Eastwood would do ONE MORE Dirty Harry film. It’s what we need now more than ever: a 90 year old bastard just blasting the fuck out of bad guys with a 44 Magnum.

Do it Clint!

earthquake with charlton Heston

Los Angeles in the 1970s was a magical time. Actors quit caring about their physique. Producers were blasting cocaine into their brains. George Kennedy was a star. It’s a time that’s never been topped and it never will be.

Out of this era came Earthquake (1974) starring Charlton Heston and a bunch of actors in need of a paycheck (and co-written by Mario Puzo).

As disaster films go, there’s a long buildup to the “disaster”: Heston is bangin Genevieve Bujold, George Kennedy is an absolute asshole, Walter Matthau is a pimp drunk, and so on. It’s all standard stuff. Then comes the 4 hour earthquake where cardboard houses crumble and the people of LA forget how to handle such an event as they fall several stories out of high rises to their violent deaths. It’s delightful.

My only complaint about this sequence is that they didn’t do enough with Richard Roundtree’s part as a daredevil. It would have been pimp if he CRUSHED that obstacle course on his motorbike while buildings crumbled and people died all around him. Oh well.

Honestly, there’s a few good matte paintings here and there. But the standout is Marjoe Gortner’s performance as the sexually confused grocer/wannabe karate instructor/National Guardsman. It’s a performance that was ahead of its time.

The ending is good too: the city is in ruins and none of the personal drama gets resolved (of course, I was barely paying attention at this point).

I think this film provides a good insight into an era where Hollywood quit giving a shit, just as long as everyone made a fuck ton of money.

lawrence! merry christmas 😀

Damn it! I wish someone hadn’t stolen my copy of Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence.

It’s my favorite holiday movie!

Seriously though, it’s probably my favorite POW film. The first time you watch it, it’s kinda underwhelming. Certainly not the kind of thing you’d expect from the director of In the Realm of the Senses.

But it’s actually one of the rare films that get better the more you watch it.

David Bowie plays a British soldier, Jack Celliers, who is taken captive by the Japanese during WWII. The camp commander, played by Japanese musician Ryuichi Sakamoto, becomes obsessed with him. Bowie and Sakamoto, not known for their acting, actually carry the film quite well.

Meanwhile, Tom Conti’s Col. Lawrence and Takeshi Kitano’s Sgt. Hara have a contentious yet mutually admirable relationship.

The emotional highlight of the film is when Lawrence and Celliers get locked up and scheduled for execution. The two confide in each other some of their regrets. We’re shown flashbacks of Celliers high class upbringing and his relationship with his younger brother. Lucky for them, it’s Christmas. Sgt. Hara gets drunk and grants the two of them a reprieve.

“Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence,” Hara says.

At the conclusion of the film, the shoe’s on the other foot. Hara is a POW yet Lawrence is unable to prevent his execution.

Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence is unusual for a war film in that rather than focusing on death and carnage, it explores human relationships, understanding, love, and regret.

I just wish whoever borrowed my copy would return it 😢

That would make my fuckin Christmas!

a shot at the title VI: still shootin’

At the premier, Pablo, Pee-Wee, and Dick Earnhardt were all decked out in their tuxedos. Kathrine was wearing her Louis Vuttoin gown, smiling and waving to the cameras. Even Dillon made an appearance.

I just threw on a clean shirt and cologne and called it a day.

At the press junket, I was asked “how would you describe this film?”, I said:

“Well it’s got some tits, dick, goblins, and swords. It’s alright I guess.”

We all sat down in our seats. When the title This Tastes Like Ass appeared on the screen, I fell asleep.

Pee-Wee nudged me when the end credits were rolling. The audience was walking out and wouldn’t make eye contact with me.

I went home and cracked open a beer. “Take that Hollywood!” I said. Then went to bed.

The next morning, critics presented their reviews:

“A cinematic experience that can’t be matched. It’s literally impossible,” read the Fort Worth Telegram.

“The filmmakers were clearly drugged out of their minds, but damn it, it works. It’ll make you horny. It’ll make you laugh. It’ll make you depressed to the point of insanity. But there’s something there that transcends the capabilities of human language,” read the Des Moines Register.

The reviews were unanimous: the gratuitous nudity, the unsimulated sex from A-list stars, the excessive violence, the absurd and almost non-existent plot…it was unique in the history of film. Nothing could compare.

When I accepted my Academy Awards (not THOSE Academy Awards) for Best Actor, Best Director, and Best Screenplay, I said:

“All you mother fuckers doubted me. You said I was too old, too stupid, and too ugly to make it in this town. Well now look at me. I’m up here and you’re down there. You’re all sick and pathetic.”

Kathrine received her accolades as well. As producer, she was awarded the Best Picture Oscar (again, not THOSE Oscars). She later succeeded Dick Earnhardt as CEO after his untimely death from viagra poisoning. She became the toast of the town.

But my point was made.

A reporter later came to me and asked, “Now that you’ve conquered Hollywood, what are you going to do now?”

I responded, “Go home and take a shit.”

a shot at the title V: the final round

The dailies started rolling in.

Kathrine and I screened the raw, unedited cut with Dick Earnhardt, CEO of Trainwreck Productions. After the 14 hour version was finished, silence fell over the room.

“Sir, I can explain,” Kathrine said.

“Kathy, please leave the room,” Mr. Earnhardt said.

She pushed her chair away from the table and left in frustration. I sat there eating my crackers.

“Pretty good shit, huh?” I said.

Mr. Earnhardt stood up and paced across the room. He took one shot of whisky. Then another. He sat back down at the table facing me.

“I’ve spent $900 million on this production,” he said. “I’ve given you every possible resource, every possible opportunity to see your vision realized.”

Mr. Earnhardt paused.

“Bob Oglesby was a great man. He’s a legend in this town. He believed in you and your talents. He thought that you were going to save this industry,” he continued.

“Damn,” I said as I munched.

“And Kathy has done everything she can to fuck that up,” Dick concluded.

I dropped my crackers.

“Really?” I asked.

“Son, this is my last hoorah. I’ve made so much money that I could bankrupt this county, and have. I’ve banged every prostitute, male and female, from here to Denver. I’ve done every drug that can be taken. I was popping viagra before it was cool to do so. I haven’t done an honest day’s work in 20 years and hope to never do so again. In short: I do not give a shit.”

“So, what are you telling me?” I asked.

“The board wants me out, they say Kathy is the future. This is her production, but I’m in control of the money. So I am giving you a blank check to complete this film in the way you see fit,” Dick stated.

I sat back in my chair.

“In that case, I need $200 million.”

a shot at the title III: money shot!

“I’m Dillon J Dudenburg. I’ve directed softcore porn. I’ve directed hardcore porn. I’ve also directed episodes of Dharma and Greg. I’ve studied under David A. Pryor, Andy Sidaris, and Godfrey Ho. I’m ready for the Big Screen. However I have some concerns with the script.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“I think we need to make the lead a heterosexual. I don’t think the Chinese market is ready for that sort of thing. But we can keep in all the gay sex,” Dillon replied.

“So the main character is straight, he just has sex with men?”

“Correct”

“I think that’s an excellent idea Dillon,” Kat interjected. “James, you need to prepare a fourth draft.”

“Very well,” I replied. I called over my production assistant, Pee-Wee.

“Pee-Wee, take note: make the main character less gay.”

“I think this has been a very productive meeting,” Kat said. “Dillon, thank you for your input. We’ll be reaching out to you shortly.”

We shook hands and Dillon exited the room.

“What do you think?” Kat asked.

“I enjoyed Take Me To Pound Town IX as much as the next guy. But he’s an asshole. I don’t think he understands my work at all,” I replied.

“Come on, James. Making films is a collaborative effort. Dillon has style, a creative flair. He is the best director for the job.”

“Or the best one we can afford,” I said.

Kat walked away when Pablo, my agent, called.

“Great news!” he said. “Kat and I have finalized your contract.”

“Oh wonderful! What did you get?”

“Well, now hear me out…”

“Pablo, what did you do?”

“Your contract is 15….“

“15..?”

“….hundred dollars. Which, of course, 45% of that goes to commission.”

“Pablo, you shit the bed on this one.”

“BUT BUT BUT you get sole screenwriting credit and 100% of the merchandising rights!”

“Pablo, the script is no longer an action romp in outer space! It’s now a melodrama in 1942 Stalingrad! What merchandising rights could there be?!”

I hung up the phone and looked for Kathrine. She was back in her office. So I climbed up the fireman pole and stormed in.

“So what am I? Your slave?!” I asked.

“First rule of Hollywood: you’re only as good as your agent,” she replied.

“The only way I can profit off this film is if we sell Nazi SS action figures! You think you can push me around? Well you got another thing coming sister!”

I slid back down the pole and found Pee-Wee.

“Pee-Wee,” I said. “When do the sets go up?”

“Uhh, Tuesday I think.”

“Load up on crank and call Dillon. We’ve got work to do.”

TO BE CONTINUED

Michael Cimino, American Hero

Orson Wells, John Huston, John Ford, Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan….

Michael Cimino.

Legend

GOAT

The director of the Deer Hunter (1978), who immediately after hoisting the Academy Award for Best Director began work on dismantling a major movie studio by staring production on the Heaven’s Gate (1980)…the greatest Hollywood flop of all time.

The Deer Hunter, Cimino’s magnum opus, is without question one of the great American films. That is if we can call it a “film”. It’s more like a fever dream. Characters drunk as shit drive from Pennsylvania to Washington state, shoot a deer, and drive back…all within 48 hours. Robert DeNiro torches a guy. And the three main characters are forced by a bunch of racist caricatures to play Russian Roulette. It’s an undeniably powerful film that accurately captures the American psyche post-Vietnam.

With the success of the Deer Hunter, Cimino had carte blanche in Hollywood to do whatever he wanted. He chose Heaven’s Gate, produced by United Artists, a story about an obscure dispute in Wyoming in the 1800s and staring a hot, Hot, HOT Kris Kristofferson, Christopher Walken, and Isabella Huppert (John Hurt’s hot too I guess). It was to be the greatest western of all time, solidifying Michael Cimino as one of the great auteurs.

When production started, problems instantly arose. Doing his best Kubrick impression, Cimino demanded take after take from his actors. He’d delay production to get the perfect shot of the Montana landscape where the film was shot, or demand that sets be torn down and rebuilt to exact specifications. He’d also charge the studio absurdly high rent to film on land that he allegedly owned (respect). The budget soared and United Artist was getting nervous.

Was it all worth it?

Lol, no.

Heaven’s Gate infamously flopped. Critics hated it. And it financially ruined United Artists (the James Bond franchise, arguably their most lucrative property at the time, would ultimately bail them out).

Despite attempts by internet and European critics to say it’s secretly a “masterpiece” 40 years after its release, Heaven’s Gate simply…doesn’t…work. The film looks like shit (sorry Vilmos Zsigmond fans), scenes go on longer than they should, and obviously Michael Cimino was feeling himself a little too much. If wasting money and being pretentious is an art form, then yes, Heaven’s Gate is a masterpiece.

Michael Cimino changed Hollywood. Gone were the days when auteurs ruled Hollywood. It wasn’t until John Landis killed three people (later acquitted) on the set of the Twilight Zone that Hollywood finally put the kibosh on artistic freedom.

Cimino would go on to direct some crap in 1980s, but his legacy was secure. That’s not worth nothin’, and I believe that’s worth honoring.

Michael Cimino passed away in 2016.

While I regard The Deer Hunter to be his finest work, one can’t forget the time Cimino, horribly disfigured by plastic surgery, roasted and mocked the entire crowd at Locarno Film Festival.

Legend