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.

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.

what is truth?

Obviously I’m going through a Bart D Ehrman phase. It’s not because I agree with him most of the time or that I find him a master debater (sorry, had to say it). It’s because he’s the only public intellectual that I can think of at the top of my head that has a genuine passion for teaching.

Because Ehrman’s area of expertise is the Bible, specifically the New Testament and early Christianity, people naturally have strong opinions about the subject. Some people, specifically atheists but a few Christians aren’t exempt, like to use this subject as a way to “trigger” their opponents.

This is a fad on YouTube. The “Intellectual Dark Web” (IDW), or guys that found fame on the internet during the “alt-Right” hay day (people like Sam Harris, Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro, etc.) perfected the science of “triggering” (also known as “owning the libs”) and many online personalities have attempted to emulate it, including leftists with varying degrees of success. It’s a way of weaponizing information.

This phenomenon is not exclusive to discussions on the Bible, religion, and politics, but even movies and fucking geography!

Because “owning the line” is currency on YouTube, this has led to many quaks pretending to be experts littering the platform and distracting us away from those trying to present information in good faith.

Just because an opinion triggers someone, that doesn’t give it more credence. But that appears to be sound logic in some circles. Even if the opinion is true, if presented in a way that’s designed to give offense, that doesn’t make the one with the opinion more noble or virtuous…it makes you an asshole.

Thankfully my man Ehrman avoids that.

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.

xXX: Revenge of Xander Berkeley

xXx is a film that came out 10 years too late. Bruce Willis would have fucking CRUSHED the role of Xander Cage.

Think about it: what if it xXx was directed by Renny Harlin or John McTiernan. Now those guys understand what action schlock is all about.

I don’t know why xXx sucks so much. Is it the script? The direction? Is it it’s leading actor?

Vin Diesel is proof that just because you look the part, doesn’t mean that you can play the part. Honestly, he is quietly one of the worst action stars I’ve ever seen. And it’s difficult to pinpoint why that is.

Is it because he’s not traditionally “good looking”? There are plenty of action stars that aren’t considered “good looking.”

Is it because he can’t act? To be a Hollywood leading man, having the ability to “act” is surprisingly low on the must-have list.

Is it because he doesn’t have a sense of humor? I think there’s something to this. I mean, Vin Diesel does have a sense of humor, but the joke is always on someone else and never on the absurdity of his character or the situation he’s in.

Being the butt of a joke is for other characters. Not for him.

Some action stars can get away with this. Steven Seagal for example. But the thing is that Seagal lacks the awareness to understand that he is the joke. Diesel is too smart for that.

So in xXx, Diesel comes across as a fucking asshole that I’m constantly rooting against.

Fuck this movie

just one more thing..

So I was eating a bag of skittles when the phone rang.

“What do you want?” I asked.

The woman over the phone spoke. “Hi, this is Arianna. We talked last week. Just want to know that I’ve been fantasizing about you. I’m really, REALLY horny. I want to come over, sit you down, take you in my mouth then ride you as you slide in and out. I want to taste you. I want to feel you inside me. Just the thought of your cock makes me quiver with excitement. Please let me come over. Please PLEASE have your way with me.”

“Sorry, watching Columbo,” I said. Then hung up.

Fisher: Miami Cop

White Collar inspired me to come up with my own totally non-offensive crime procedural.

So Hollywood, if you’re reading, I present to you Fisher: Miami Cop, starring Rob Gronkowski as the Hawaiian shirt wearing, vaguely racist homicide detective with a penchant for hard drinking and always shooting first.

After coming off his suspension for domestic abuse and vehicular manslaughter, Fisher is given a partner: the saucy Latina Arianda Morales.

“But Chief,” Fisher says, “I don’t work with the Cubans OR the Chinese.”

But he quickly changes his mind when he sees that she’s hot.

Fisher and Morales come to a greater understanding of each other and their cultural differences. Every episode ends in playful banter, culminating in Fisher’s famous catchphrase: “get off my ass, bitch!”

Fisher: Miami Cop coming to CBS.