light sleeper

On the Mount Rushmore of cokeheads, Paul Schrader is between Dennis Hopper and Phil Specter (along with Stevie Nicks of course). Which is why I was excited to see Light Sleeper available to watch on Amazon Prime.

It’s definitely not a perfect film. Willem Dafoe plays an aging drug delivery boy employed by Susan Sarandon who runs into an ex flame which leads him to shoot up a hotel room (we’ve all been there). It’s a movie that should have been fleshed out more. The climax (the shooting up of a hotel room) didn’t quite pay off, and the sudden romantic interest between Sarandon and Dafoe in the end was odd, but there’s a lot of other things going for the film.

The sanitation strike, which played in the background and was often juxtaposed against the high class NYC lifestyle, was a nice touch. But the desperation of Dafoe’s character is absolutely heartbreaking.

I get what that’s about.

Dafoe is aimless. He wanted to be an actor, model, musician, and writer. His best years were spent strung out on drugs. Now he’s 40 and lacks focus.

Subtlety, Sarandon is in a similar position. She plays the boss but she knows the gravy train is about to leave the station. She thinks she’s some NYC hotshot, but by looking at her shitty apartment, she’s probably on the outside looking in.

Now that I type that out, suddenly Dafoe and Sarandon’s abrupt romantic interest becomes apparent: they’re both losers and now they have to settle for each other.

The soundtrack is incredible, for both good and bad reasons. The music itself is great. Where it goes off the rails is the damn singing. The visuals are powerful enough that you don’t need to be told how Dafoe’s character is feeling. Anybody could have written those lyrics. For example (in the style mimicking Bruce Springsteen):

I am walking down the street at night

I run into my ex girlfriend

We get into a little fight

I feel so sad that I just might

Stalk her at her mom’s funeral

Then she gets sad as well

Then we reconnect and start to kiss

She complements my erection

Then she tells me that she’s sopping wet

So we fuck all night then tells me to leave

Then I find out she’s back on drugs

Then she jumps out a window to her death

So I buy a gun from Puerto Rican man

Then I ride in limo with Susan Sarandon

Then I shoot up a hotel room

(Lyrics by Michael Been)

Despite all of that, this is a nice forgotten gem from the mind of Paul Schrader.

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.

david fincher

For whatever reasons, I’ve recently went through a David Fincher binge. And it occurred to me: I’m not a fan of his work.

That being said, The Game and Panic Room are his two best movies. Alien 3 is probably better than you remember. Se7en is alright.

Everything else is overrated. This includes Fight Club.

But The Game surprised me. It reminded me of one of my other favorite films: Roman Polanski’s Frantic. It’s hard to pull off these kinds of movies…watching a character descend into madness while information about what’s actually going on slowly leaks out.

Honestly, The Game doesn’t completely pull it off. Fincher’s visual style and Michael Douglas’s performance carry the film. But to completely enjoy it, one must ignore large plot holes and read more into subtext than what was probably intended (I assume).

I thought that Douglas’ character was suffering from the same madness that his father had and the ending indicated that “the game” was still being played. But I have the suspicion that this open ended interpretation bails out the script. In other words, Fincher’s direction saves the day.

As for everything else on Fincher’s resume, he seems to suffer from the same problem that Ridley Scott has: all style and the substance is overstated.

ac/dc

It’s never a good idea to drop acid around Halloween. But definitely make an exception for Highway To Hell (1991)

Is it funny?

Not really.

But then again, I’ve never laughed before.

Yet where Highway to Hell lacks in being funny, it makes up for in imagination. It’s certainly a more enjoyable journey through hell than say What Dreams May Come. (Hellraiser II slams as well)

Honestly, I don’t remember the plot. Something to do with Kristi Swanson getting kidnapped by a cop from hell and her boyfriend attempts a rescue. Ben and Jerry Stiller make an appearance. So do Lita Ford’s boobs.

But what makes this movie stand out (other than Lita Ford’s boobs) is it’s eclectic mix of genres and lack of fucks given.

The special effects are mostly shit, but who cares? Obviously they were trying and they get an easy A for effort.

Kids forget, but there was a time when people actually tried to make memorable films. Even when they are clearly taking the piss out of you it’s a more engaging experience than most Oscar bate that’s trotted year after year nowadays.

Hell, modern schlock sucks too. Just a bunch of dorks behind a computer throwing “special effects” on the screen like that’s supposed to be impressive. They don’t care anymore. As long as it makes $11 trillion at the box office, everything’s fine.

So shout out to Highway to Hell (and to Lita Ford’s boobs)

100 Girls: was that—a movie?

Kids forget, but there was a time before 9/11.

No one’s proud of it. But it happened.

Evidence for such a decade is the 2000 film 100 Girls. It’s hard to believe they used to make movies like that.

The plot’s pretty simple: some dude in college loses his virginity in an elevator like it’s some big deal. Then he spends the rest of the movie looking for this mystery girl in a dormitory.

His roommate also has a fucked up penis.

If this was a typical boner comedy, it probably would have been standard background noise.

You see, discussions on the differences between men and women used to be “interesting” to people. Not to me though. I thought girls were just boys with vaginas and left it at that. I would know because I’ve definitely seen a vagina. But 20 years ago, people didn’t know that.

So there were things like The Man Show, Kevin Smith films, American Pie, etc. The difference is though, occasionally those things would be funny.

100 Girls attempts to elevate the formula. And the moral of the story is this:

“Girls have boobs. But did you they also have personality? What a revelation!”

*Cue Bowling For Soup.

So be thankful that you live in a time of terrorism, pandemics, catastrophic climate change, massive wealth inequality, and dying democracies.

At least it isn’t the 90’s.