Blade runner

Soooo, did I ever talk about Blade Runner on this blog?

I’ve always had a lot of opinions about the film, but it seems like every film buff has wrote a dissertation on it. So what’s the point of clogging up the internet with one more, ya know?

But after ripping off it’s ending in my latest short story, I can’t stop thinking about it.

For the record, and I’ve been very open about this, Blade Runner 2049 is the superior film. By a fucking mile too. Ridley Scott is an interesting visual filmmaker, but all of his movies lack heart. This is true for not only Blade Runner, but Alien, Gladiator, The Martian, etc, as well.

Additionally, I find the script to be underwhelming. Even the film’s most memorable moment (the Tears in Rain monologue) was largely the result of actor Rutger Hauer’s ingenuity and not so much the writer’s. I don’t blame Hampton Fancher and David Peoples for this (the latter would later write Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven). The final script was probably the result of compromise during a troubled production.

Nevertheless, Blade Runner works because everyone else behind the scenes CRUSHED their role, from F/X artist Douglas Trumbull, DP Jordan Cronenweth, composer Vangelis, concept artist Syd Mead, production designer Lawrence G. Paull, and everyone in between.

In Scott’s defense, I believe he sees himself as more of a “CEO”-type filmmaker, or one that brings together highly talented people to do their thing, as opposed to being an auteur himself. So in that respect, he did his job really well. Nevertheless, likely because of this approach, there is an “it” factor that’s lacking in Blade Runner which prevents it from becoming one of the great classics in cinema.

Strangely, I think MOST cinephiles agree with this: Blade Runner is visually and conceptually one of the most influential films of all time. But is it a great movie?

Personally, I think that question is more interesting than the film itself.

But where I disagree with most other fans of the Blade Runner universe are on the Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) scenes. Hauer feels like he’s acting on an island in this film. While that’s a deliberate choice, his scenes drag the movie down. And to be completely honest, the movie is not nearly as interesting without Harrison Ford on the screen.

Now Ford’s performance is somewhat controversial. It’s noted for being his first “mature” role, and a lot of people don’t like it. He often comes across as detached, grouchy, and needlessly aggressive in some parts. Ford’s performance is a bit dialed back, as opposed to Hauer, who isn’t afraid to be hammy and childish. Unfortunately, Ford acting choices were better suited to the Blade Runner universe and, despite being the leading man, he doesn’t feel like he’s in the film enough.

That’s it. That’s all I’ve got to say 🤷‍♂️

Meet bill shits (part ix)

“He’s close,” Archibald said as he dug his fingers into the soil.

“How can you tell?” I asked.

“There’s a steaming pile of bloody shit right there,” he replied. I looked to the right and lo and behold, right there a reeking pile of human poop.

“It seems like you’ve done this many times before,” I said to him.

“Far too often.”

The four of us-Archibald, Darla, Allen Funt, and myself- trekked through the woods in search of a mentally deteriorating William Shitz. The sun was starting to set. A gentle gust was blowing in from the north; a storm was brewing. While we found hopeful signs that Mr. Shitz was still alive, we only covered a small portion of the 148,971 acres that he owned.

We decided to hunker down for the night. I put together a small fire in the middle of camp. As usual, Allen Funt couldn’t stop crying. “What are we gonna do when we find him?” he bawled.

“We’re gonna kill him,” Archibald replied as he gnawed on a piece of beef jerky.

“But why 😭😭😭😭?” Funt asked.

Archibald threw down his jerky and pulled out a small machete. He grabbed Allen and held him up to a tree with the blade up to his neck. “Because Mr. Shitz wishes it!” Archibald screamed.

“Gentlemen!” I interrupted. “We must maintain our composure! Let’s not make any decisions on Mr. Shitz until we find him!”

Archibald nodded and lowered the machete from Allen’s neck. “I know what I must do,” he said as he slid the blade back into its holster. Then he looked me in the eye. “Just don’t forget what YOU must do.”

Archie climbed back into his tent for the night. So did Allen Funt, as he soiled his pants for the second time that day. Darla and I sat by the fire.

“Why did your father love your mother?” I asked her.

“You really are some kind of fucking moron,” she said as she lowered the flask from her lips. “Why don’t you understand the simplest of human concepts? Are you some kind of alien?”

“In a way,” I replied as I took a swig from the same flask.

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“You wouldn’t understand.”

“Probably not! But try me! Nobody, not even Archie, understands your sudden appearance in my father’s life.”

I took another big hit from the flask. “It is my duty,” I explained, “to guide your father into the next life. Or at least it was. You see, I was his guardian…but I fell out of heaven’s grace.”

“That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard,” she replied. “So if you’re his disgraced guardian angel, then why are you bothering to fulfill your heavenly duties?”

“It’s a long story,” I said. “Redemption I suppose.”

“For what?”

“I…I guess I thought I could be human,” I stuttered. “But I never grasped human love. I was damned…damned to walk the earth; being neither human nor angel. I thought I could do one last thing…revealing to your father love and compassion in his final days; the kind he has never felt before. But then something strange happened.”

“What happened?” Darla asked longingly.

“I met you.”

Darla chuckled and shook her head. “You’re just another drunk weirdo that’s wandered into my life,” she said. Then she stood up and brushed the dirt and leaves from her jeans as the rain started sprinkling down. “But,” she continued, “you ain’t a bad fuck. So you’re welcome to join me in my tent. Just TRY to last longer than two minutes this time, mmk?”

TO BE CONTINUED…

Rectuma, monsturd, and deadbeat at dawn

This was a STRONG week on Tubi. Right when I was about to give up (not just on Tubi, but on life in general) I got slapped across the face with three BANGERS.

Rectuma (2003)

This is why I say it takes a couple of decades after a film’s release before it can be properly critiqued. Audiences were probably pissed when they saw this in 2003. They probably discarded it as just another lame attempt at South Park-style humor, which many attempted, unsuccessfully, to emulate. But now, nearly 20 years later, Rectuma’s stupidity can be fully appreciated.

Just in case you forgot, I’ve taken a LOT of drugs. And as a result, my memory is nearly shot. So if you want an accurate plot summary, you’ll have to look elsewhere. But best I can recall, the story is about some schlubby dude who gets raped by a frog in Mexico and then he gets nuclear rods shoved up his rectum thus causing his ass to grow massive in size before it starts attacking LA. Plus his wife is trying to kill him.

In 2003, I was fully steeped in this low-brow, offensive, toilet humor (still kinda am, tbh). That was practically internet culture in those days. So watching this movie was like a walk down memory lane.

People forget, there was a time when “politically incorrect” humor (before it got relabeled as “anti-woke” humor 🤢) oddly lacked any political dimension whatsoever. Everyone laughed at it because it was after 9/11 and we all thought we would die soon anyway. Stuff like Rectuma was supposed to distract us from that horrible fact.

So to appreciate this movie, one must see it as an artifact of very early 21st Century life. It should be shown in colleges and history classes across the globe.

Monsturd (2003)

Both Monsturd and Rectuma were released in 2003 and were both seemingly filmed in Butte County, California. So I’m assuming there was some overlap in the productions of these two movies.

I don’t think Monsturd is quite of the same caliber as Rectuma, but I appreciate the effort nonetheless. The plot is simple: a gigantic, living turd -created by a mad scientist- terrorizes the citizens of a small community, and it’s up to the sheriff’s department to stop it.

Despite being the lesser of the two films, like peanut butter and chocolate, this goes well with Rectuma.

Deadbeat At Dawn (1988)

I saved the best for last. Outside of one Ouija Board scene, this really isn’t a “horror” film. But I’m glad, that in Tubi’s infinite wisdom, they recommended it.

Filmed on the mean streets of Dayton, Ohio, Deadbeat At Dawn is about one man’s revenge against rival gang members for killing his girlfriend. The final confrontation at a train station is simultaneously amateurish and utterly fucking brutal…and it concludes in the most satisfying way: the bad guy gets his throat ripped out (this was released a year before Road House, btw).

The violence in Deadbeat At Dawn is delightfully absurd, but the highlight of the movie is when, in his darkest hour, our hero goes from getting drunk to snorting coke to shooting up heroin before finally dropping acid. Self-destruction never looked more hilarious.

This is definitely one of the great underrated action films of the 80s.

*******

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Jack hardcock: Christian detective (part xi)

“Shit!” I yelled. “After killing those bald eagles, I’m all outta bullets!”

“Jack,” Pete replied, “if you can get us out of this, you might make me a believer after all.”

That was all the motivation I needed. So I said a prayer: “Lord, everything that’s happened so far has led me to this point. Give me the strength to kill Sally and lead Peter Tucker to Salvation in Jesus Christ. Amen.”

Right then, as the Goodyear Blimp hovered above, Sally, who was piloting the aircraft, released dozens of live hand grenades down onto Progressive Field. Pete and I weaved and bobbed our way through one explosion after the next but when the last grenade landed, it didn’t explode.

That’s when the Lord gave me a sign.

I saw Deshaun Watson, who was supposed to the throw the first pitch in the celebrity baseball game, cowering in the corner and pissing himself in the dugout. “Deshaun!” I yelled, “we need your arm strength! If you pick up this live hand grenade and hurl it back at the blimp before it detonates, you might be redeemed in the eyes of the public for all those disgusting sexual acts you did to those masseuses. Maybe not though. But what other choice you got?! Hurry before it explodes!”

Watson gathered up the courage, climbed out of the dugout, picked up the grenade, and with all of his strength he launched it towards the blimp.

He was right on the money. The grenade exploded, and the blimp came tumbling down onto the field.

Sally was in a daze when she climbed out of the wreckage. “Holt!” Pete ordered as he lifted his 9mm towards her. But Sally was too quick. She drew her weapon and shot Pete in the abdomen.

Then she turned her gun towards me and laughed maniacally. “I finally have you where I want you, Jack Hardcock!” Sally said, “Prepare to meet your maker, Cleveland scum!”

Sally then ripped an entire clip into my direction, but to her surprise, every bullet missed. I dodged my way over to Pete’s position. With one hand over the bullet wound, he tossed me his 9mm with the other. “Pete,” I said, “without my .38, I’m useless!”

“I believe in you, Jack,” he replied, “have faith!”

I lifted the 9mm and emptied five bullets into Sally. As she dropped to her knees, I walked towards her, still aiming the weapon. “But why, Jack?” she asked, “I was only trying to clean up the streets. Wouldn’t your God approve?”

“No Sally,” I said, “Vengeance is the Lord’s. And I am His instrument.”

I fired one more round into Sally’s skull and her body fell to the ground.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Breaking bad on Wall Street

Yeah, like everyone else in the early 2010s, I was addicted to Breaking Bad. It came at a turning point when we started evaluating the male ego in art and storytelling. Many bitch about this paradigm shift, but honestly it’s given me a fuckton of creative fuel to write my dumbass stories.

Without it, I wouldn’t have a writing career at all! So thanks Breaking Bad for all the digital trees I’ve wasted on the internet.

But as time has passed, it’s obvious that there were problems with the show. Now I try to evaluate art by the intentions of the artist. So what were the showrunners trying to do here?

https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/breaking-bad-creator-vince-gilligan-231701266.html

https://variety.com/2022/tv/news/breaking-bad-skyler-hate-vince-gilligan-1235347122/amp/

Apparently, creator Vince Gilligan didn’t know either. While I think everyone involved did their jobs in the most competent and effective way possible, in my opinion, there was a fundamental difference between Gilligan’s vision and Bryan Cranston’s portrayal of Walter White/Heisenberg.

I base this opinion on zero research, but hear me out…

I’m assuming, when the show was pitched, that the thrust behind the story was to watch the protagonist turn into the villain. At least this is what drew me into the show. But if that’s the case, we run into an age old Clark Kent/Superman problem.

Philosopher and film theorist Slavoj Zizek, while discussing The Joker, claimed that the real identity of a superhero IS the mask and the person beneath it is the alter ego. Or, in other words, the MASK is what permits us to be our true selves.

In that sense, Heisenberg-the “MASK”- is really what Walter White is. If Heisenberg was ever wearing a mask for a disguise, that mask was the man Walter White. Therefore, Walter White…or, more accurately, Heisenberg…was ALWAYS evil.

I’m glad all of that makes sense.

But the problem is Walter White doesn’t always ACT like the bad guy. In fact, he’s usually shown being a loving father and Jesse’s guardian. Sure, he poisons a child, watches a woman choke to death, etc etc. but Walter White…probably due to Cranston’s acting choices…seems to signal horror at some of his decisions. In fact, if memory serves, he shows a sigh of relief when he learns that the child WON’T die from the poisoning attempt.

He even begs for Hank’s life for fuck’s sake!

Would Gus Fring, Walter White’s arch nemesis, have done that?

Fuck no!

And therein lies the fundamental problem with Breaking Bad: the audience never severs its sympathy with Walter White. Nor, I would argue, were they ever encouraged to do so.

Was this a deliberate choice by the showrunners? Was Cranston too damn competent at his job? Did anyone think any of this through?

I don’t suppose that this undermines the quality of the show. It’s just annoying to consider while re-watching it. The show seems to fail at meeting its own objective.

In fact, this concept…displaying a totally deplorable character in the most engaging way possible…has been successfully done before. Perhaps you remember it: The Wolf of Wall Street.

To be fair though, Martin Scorsese has a knack for this kind of thing. In fact, the movie that put him on the map, Taxi Driver, does something similar. The audience is exposed to a deranged world of a protagonist, we even empathize with him to a certain degree, but we can’t ever imagine coming to his defense (as fans of Breaking Bad have done many times before with Walter White).

With the Wolf of Wall Street, Scorsese “let’s you in on the joke.” Jordan Belfort is an over-the-top nutcase, and Scorsese allows you to indulge in his depravity, but you know that the end will come crashing down at any moment.

Scorsese isn’t afraid to “pull the trigger”…or show you the moment when a protagonist looses his grip on reality.

While Walter White certainly had his over-the-top moments, the audience is never encouraged to lose sympathy for him. This is reinforced through the writing. White should have never of begged for Hank’s life, his relationship with Jesse should have been established as being purely manipulative and nothing more, his role as a father should have deteriorated, etc etc.

Perhaps that’s the limits of television. When you spend five or more seasons with a character, it’s hard NOT to have sympathy for them.

But it always felt as though Walter White never quite broke bad.

wings hauser

I’m sure Italy is a wonderful place: nice people, delightful food and wine, rich history, beautiful scenery, etc, etc. But ‘giallo’ films and Italian horror as a whole…I’ll just say they make me absolutely sick.

And I think I know why:

Caligula.

Now Caligula can’t be considered ‘giallo’ OR horror, but it might as well be. If you recall, that film absolutely scared the shit out of me as a kid and I never quite recovered. So my response to Italian horror is similar to having alcohol poisoning: if you get it once by drinking vodka, you can’t quite stomach vodka again. The Italian style of tight closeups, zooms, disorienting music and editing, and fixation on gore and nudity just make me a little queasy.

But I have a job to do. And that job is to watch EVERY cheapass horror film on Tubi. That includes the filmography of the legendary Lucio Fulci. So I started at the worst possible place:

A Cat in the Brain.

The movie forced me to do some research while I was watching it, largely because I had no idea what the fuck was going on. Fulci plays the lead: himself as a film director that’s slowly becoming disturbed by a movie he’s making. As we watch him descend into madness, we’re shown random clips from prior films, almost as if this movie was thrown together in the most halfassed way possible.

A Cat in the Brain was produced towards the end of Fulci’s distinguished career, so there’s no telling where he was mentally. But I’ll say this: Fulci did a much better job of cobbling together this Frankenstein of a movie than Godfrey Ho did for Robo Vampire.

I neglected to mention that A Cat in the Brain is considered a “comedy” (thus deploying the “covering your ass” method over decade before Tommy Wiseau did for The Room). Maybe the humor went over my head, but I was too petrified watching some guy beat his wife’s face off to laugh.

You needn’t worry though, because this movie has a happy ending: a disgusting Fulci sails off into the sunset with a bikini-clad woman that’s at least a third his age.

I hated A Cat in the Brain. But Fulci fans love it. Just check out the reviews at IMDB.

After watching that shitshow I needed a palate cleanser. That’s when I found the 1984 Wings Hauser and Bo Hopkins (RIP) classic , Mutant.

Perhaps calling Mutant a ‘classic’ is a bit of a stretch, yet despite its lackluster script, it is competently made. It’s a story we’ve seen a thousand times before: strangers roll into town, weird things happen, everyone turns into zombies, heroes save the day in the most ham fisted way, blah blah blah.

Of course, none of the character archs pay off. Least of all Bo Hopkins’, the alcoholic town sheriff with a dark past. Nevertheless, Hauser and Hopkins’ performances carry the day, ALMOST to the point where you don’t feel cheated out of your time or money.

Actually, I just LOVE saying ‘Wings Hauser’. It sounds like Wings of Desire, the 1987 Wim Wenders film. Then I imagine Wings Hauser being in Wings of Desire and it makes me happy. His might be my most favorite name of anyone who has ever had a name.

Wings Hauser

It’s not his birth name, but still…

Jack hardcock: Christian detective (part iv)

I returned to DCI headquarters to check in the Chief. He was shoveling jelly donuts down his face hole and getting shit all over the paperwork.

“Can you believe this shit, Jack?” he said while shards of donut was flying out of his mouth.

“I’m a Christian, Chief,” I replied, “I believe everything that I’m told.”

“Take a look at this.”

Chief handed me a report from the Pittsburgh FBI office regarding a series of murders. I had to swipe away jelly just to read all of the paragraphs.

“So what?” I asked.

“The autopsies came back from the McGarth killings. It can’t be a coincidence Jack. The same guy killing all them hookers in Pittsburgh is the same guy who killed McGarth and our two prostitutes.”

“The FBI are a bunch of jokers, Chief. I wouldn’t trust them to find a missing cat. Especially after what they did to President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago!”

“Now cool it, Jack!” Chief said. “I know that you hold a grudge against the Bureau after they shitcanned you and sent you to Ohio BCI, but I expect your full cooperation!”

“Cooperation?” I asked. “The fuck are you talking about, Chief?”

“The Feds are coming to help us with our investigation,” he replied, “and I don’t want ONE word out of you! You hear?! Or you’ll be sent to Toledo so fast that you’ll bust your pants!”

“I already busted in my pants once today, Chief,” I said, “then I prayed for the Lord’s forgiveness. So don’t threaten me with a good time.”

“That’s it!” the Chief yelled, “get out of my office!”

“With pleasure.”

The FBI would not be getting my cooperation. But I couldn’t solve this case on my own. So I went looking for my good friend: local gangster Gregg Poppovich.

I found him enjoying a plate of lasagna at his Italian restaurant that he owned just outside of town. I grabbed his head and shoved it into the plate.

“Jesus, Jack!” he said as he wiped away the tomato sauce from his face, “you could have just said hello!”

I laid the .38 down on the table. “I need some answers,” I said.

“About what?!”

“Art McGarth.”

“I told you! I know what you know!”

I grabbed the plate and smashed it against his face. “Not good enough!” I yelled.

Gregg grabbed another towel and began wiping the blood from his face. “Is there something wrong, Jack? You seem a bit agitated,” he asked.

I took a deep breath and exhaled. “Thanks for asking Gregg,” I said, “but it seems like the FBI is always up my ass!”

“I know how you feel,” Gregg replied, “it ain’t easy being a local gangster, ya know?”

“Unfortunately, they’re coming down here from Pittsburgh to investigate the McGarth killings,” I said. “I don’t need their help. What good has the Federal government ever done?!”

“Jack, I know we haven’t always seen eye to eye,” Gregg said, “but if you ever needed any assistance, I’m always here to help.”

“Thanks Gregg,”I replied, “you’ve always been a good friend. So since you’re offering, I’m gonna need the entire Cleveland criminal underworld to help me catch a killer.”

TO BE CONTINUED….

Black roses (1988)

When a movie informs you that it’s a Shapiro-Glickenhaus production, you’re in for a ride. And Black Roses did not disappoint.

I’ve always been intrigued by the psychological/political dimensions of the 80s. Poltergeist kind of touches on this in the most subtle way, how family dynamics were altered during this decade. Black Roses picked up on this concept and ran with it.

The film shines a spotlight on the contradictions within Reagan-era politics: parents being appalled yet titillated by youth culture (and a complete lack of awareness that these tensions exist). The story of Black Roses centers on some “heavy metal” band coming to small town USA and corrupting its youth. The youth become demon-possessed and start killing their parents. Only a mustached English teacher stands in their way.

Of course, the band is entirely blamed for the “corruption”. Despite the shitty parenting throughout, the adults never once ask themselves: “are we to blame?”. But I guess parenting styles in the 1980s didn’t include things like paying attention to your children. Additionally, because parents were unable to take responsibility for themselves, we now have “culture wars”…which stem back to this decade…on which adults can use as a scapegoat for why they have shitty children.

Now I’m probably giving the filmmakers WAY to much credit for this analysis. They probably just wanted to show rock n’ roll and boobs with a few demons thrown in for good measure. But all good art is a reflection on the time it was produced. And Black Roses certainly pulls back the curtain on Reagan’s America.

what is a reel ass dude?

Definitions vary. But in short, it’s any person that rides a fine line between being insane…or criminally stupid…and a total menace to society.

Which leads to a bigger question that I get asked everyday of my life: how does one get inducted into the Internet Ruined Everything’s Hall of Fame of Real Ass Dudes (IREHOFRAD)?

Because this is such an elite club, one must meet the following criteria:

1. Demonstrated clear excellence in insanity or stupidity. But their eccentricities can’t lead them to be perpetually in jail. Remember, being a menace to society is a clear disqualification for being a real ass dude. Serial killers, mass murderers, and Harvey Weinstein will never qualify.

2. That being said, there are bonus points for criminal activity. DUIs, robbery, minor drug trafficking, embezzling, manslaughter, fraud, etc, are perfectly acceptable. Sex and hate crimes, however, are an automatic disqualification. OJ Simpson totally rides the line here.

3. Have outstanding achievements in the fields of entertainment, business, sports, politics, technology, etc, that will stand the test of time REGARDLESS of their insanity, stupidity, and criminal activities. A prime example here is Bobby Knight. The man had no business coaching a college basketball program who nevertheless won three national titles. This is why Knight was the first inductee into the HOF.

Basically to get into the Hall, inductees must exemplify, or outright facilitate, the decline of society’s collective super ego.

Have someone you want to nominate? Let me know in the comments.

On the ballot next year is OJ Simpson, Brett Favre, Lyndon Baines Johnson, and Donald Trump. Only one can get in.

another round of terrible movies

It was slim pickins this week.

I probably started watching a little over a half dozen of B-movies in my quest to see every horror film on Tubi. And I probably only finished two of them.

These are those two.

The Majorettes (1986)

I love a movie that can’t decide what it wants to be. So instead of choosing, it decides to be every option.

The Majorettes calls itself a “slasher” film. Sure, okay. At times, I think, it flirts with being a supernatural comedy. Then it inexplicably becomes a remake of Rambo.

Your guess is as good as mine.

My favorite part is one villain hangs another villain using a rope that runs through a cheapass hook that’s barely screwed into the ceiling.

While the film was godawful, I am intrigued enough to check out the book that this was based on (which was adapted for the screen by its author). If it’s as random as the movie, it seems like my kind of book.

Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers (1988)

I might have to watch this one again.

It has everything that I love: private detectives, Linnea Quigley, and a short running time (boobs too, if you’re into that sort of thing).

The film is absolute trash. And deliberately so. That’s Hollywood, folks.

Honestly, the image above says everything you need to know. It ain’t Citizen Kane, but it will easily kill an hour and 15 minutes.