Celebrating The 25th Anniversary Of REPO MAN


REPO MAN (Dir. Alex Cox, 1984) It doesnt get any cult classic-ier than Alan Coxs 1984 ode to the sleazy underbelly of Los Angeles. As such, I wasnt alone to be thrilled to see it on the schedule for Cool Classics @ The Colony as the almost packed house proved last night. Denver Hill, manager of the North Raleigh theater, introduced the film and asked how many had seen it before. A huge percentage of the audience including me raised their hands. He then asked how many had seen it at the theater and a very few people raised their hands. I was too young to see it on the big screen in its original release because of its R rating but I saw the movie many times when it hit cable in the mid 80s. I believe I had it on a VHS tape recorded in the fast speed so it could be crammed with a couple other movies. That tape is long gone but the movie remained in my memory as one of the funniest weird movies I had ever seen.

I was anxious to revisit REPO MAN and see if it still holds up. I downloaded the soundtrack and its beautiful but scary blend of punk – Iggy Pop who provided the title theme with tracks by the Circle Jerks, the Plugz, Fear, and Black Flag was deliriously dated but still held up. The movie is unsurprisingly the same way – Coxs surreal story of crusty jaded repossession agents, punk rock thieves, and a 1964 Chevrolet Malibu that may contain aliens in its trunk has lost none of its crazy charm. The audience laughed heartily at the first close-up of a young Emilio Estevez as the movies protagonist Otto with his buzz cut and a crucifix earring but then they laughed at just about every other shot too. Especially shots of a grocery store full of generically packaged products such as white plain beer cans with only the word beer on the label. Estevez slugs a coworker (Circle Jerks bassist Zander Schloss) and quits his stock clerk job at said store, but his bad attitude collides head on with bad luck as he finds his girlfriend (Jennifer Balgobin) cheating on him and that his hippie parents have donated his college fund to a television evangelist.

Estevez stumbles into the repo business by way of the crotchety but always lovable Harry Dean Stanton who is a veteran agent for the humorously named Helping Hand Acceptance Corporation. At first our hero is reluctant to take the job, protesting by pouring one of those generic beers on their office floor but the lure of loot finds him getting chased and shot at in the process of repossessing cars from delinquent owners. Meanwhile the before mentioned Malibu driven by a mad government scientist (Fox Harris) is being sought after all over town by an FBI agent (Susan Barnes) and competing repo men for its Top Secret cargo. A lethal glow emits when somebody opens the trunk to investigate it – a device which was undoubtedly an inspiration on Quentin Tarentinos glowing briefcase in PULP FICTION.

This is all punctuated with the punchy punk soundtrack that never lets up and contains a roster of quotable lines including:

John Wayne was a fag.Miller (Tracey Walter)

So what? So never say fuck you to me! Because you havent earned the right yet!” – Plettschner (Richard Foronjy)

Only an asshole gets killed for a car.” – Bud (Harry Dean Stanton)

Id rather die on my feet than live on my knees.Otto (Emilio Estevez)

Look at em, ordinary fucking people, I hate em. Bud

I know a life of crime has led me to this sorry fate, and yet, I blame society. Society made me what I am.Dick (Dick Rude)

The screening at the Colony last night confirmed that REPO MAN still wears the 80s cult classic crown. Sure, it may creak a little at times but it’s impossible to imagine the independent film landscape of the 90s and beyond without it. There is talk of Cox making a sequel called REPO CHICK and why not? I doubt anything he would do would dim the glow of this awesome oddity. If anything it will point more folks to the original but if the enthusiastic audience last evening are any indication the film has legs long enough to last on its own.

More later…

Revisiting RESERVOIR DOGS On The Big Screen – Thanks Again Cool Classics @ The Colony!

As a film geek/blogger it’s probably not surprising that one of my favorite pastimes is to see old movies, whether for the first time or hundredth, on the big screen. A 35 MM print, new or old, of a particular cult or could be cult movie really is most certainly my cup of tea. As I’ve blogged before, The Colony Theater in North Raleigh has been showing a regular round of what they call “Cool Classics”. Last Saturday night was right for a midnight show of arguably Quentin Tarantino’s best flick. Since my girlfriend and I have attended such previous pop culture staples as ERASERHEAD, PURPLE RAIN and most recently enjoyed re-seeing CITY OF LOST CHILDREN we were game to revisit:


RESERVOIR DOGS (Dir. Quentin Tarantino, 1992)


It was hugely fitting that the night before this late show, The Museum Of Art in Raleigh screened THE TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE. Why you ask? Because Mr. Too Cool For Film School Tarantino lovingly lifted the use of colors as code names from that classic 70’s heist film – i.e. Mr. Blond, Mr. Brown, Mr. Blue etc. Of course he snarkily threw in Mr. Pink just so Steve Buscemi could have something to hilariously complain about: “Yeah, Mr. Pink sounds like Mr. Pussy. Tell you what, let me be Mr. Purple.” He lifted lots more from other films here too but whether you consider it a rip-off or a homage, RESERVOIR DOGS, 17 years later, is still colossal cinema and one of the most daring breakthrough debuts of a director ever.


This was before independent films were the rage and award nominee regulars. Many notable auteurs had offered up dark crafty fare before but while filmmakers like Jim Jarmusch and Steven Soderbergh made cool indie films, Tarantino made indie films ultra cool. With RESERVOIR DOGS and its overwhelmingly influential follow-up PULP FICTION, the former video store clerk created a world of wise guys in suits with thin black ties, vintage cars with blood splashed interiors, 50’s styled diners, f-bombs and n-words dropped in nearly every line, endless pop culture reference riffing, and soundtracks full of 70’s funk/pop deep cuts. The opening credits slow motion shuffle to George Bakers Little Green bag alone defines Tarantinos savvy assured style.


Most of the action in RESERVOIR DOGS (nobody really knows what the title means – Tarantino himself wont say) deals with a never seen heist gone wrong and takes place in a mostly empty warehouse. It has been said that for budgetary reasons most directors first films are essentially ‘filmed plays’. That said, seeing this film on the big screen for the first time enhanced the spare staging scenarios for me to an edgier level than I expected. The iconic shot, used on many posters and the go-to promotional picture, of Harvey Keitel with gun pointed at an on the floor Steve Buscemi is 10 times more effective here than on any TV viewing when it pulls back to reveal Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen) coolly watching them in an over the shoulder viewpoint. Likewise the shot from the P.O.V. of the cop (Kirk Baltz) tied up in Mr. Blonde’s car trunk – I mean it’s obvious to say but it’s so nice to see this film like this how it was truly meant to be seen.


One flaw of many film folks’ first films is that the actors all talk like the writer/director (see Richard Linklater’s SLACKER). This is actually something that works well in Tarantino’s favor here despite all odds. I can practically hear Tarantino coaching Buscemi, Keitel, producer turned actor Lawrence Tierney,Tim Roth et al. through all of their lines but somehow that’s actually a plus in these punchy proceedings. Tarantino wisely kills off his own character (Mr. Brown) after his opening Like A Virgin breakdown speech presumably because he was aware his acting wasnt up to the caliber of his co-stars – too bad he didnt make the same decision in future films (especially PULP FICTION and DEATH PROOF).


In the low budget framing but the high formula re-thinking that defines Tarantino’s cut and paste career, RESERVOIR DOGS deserves future wave after wave of big screen audiences. Even if you own a special edition DVD or Blu-ray, consider seeing it on the big screen if a print comes to your area. Every detail from Steven Wright’s voice-over on the radio (“K-Billy’s Super Sounds of the Seventies” to be exact) to the sadly late Chris Penn’s scene steals as Nice Guy Eddie just screams for larger projection. One great moment – in a pivotal scene, Madsen spoke just as somebody in the audience made a distracting noise by dropping their drink. Keitel responded “excuse me?” as if he didn’t hear because of the offending interruption. Madsen had to repeat himself louder. Many at the Colony theater late show laughed – a communal sensation that can’t be recreated at home. Maybe that’s a disclaimer that should be on this film as well, especially the brutal cop’s ear slicing sequence: “These are trained professionals – don’t try this at home.”


Post note: I realize after re-reading this that I was addressing folks who’ve already seen this movie. If you haven’t seen it – by all means, screw waiting for a big screen opportunity, just rent the damn thing and complete the indie initiation of your film education – why doncha?


More later…

7 Years Later, Does MULHOLLAND DRIVE Make Any More Sense?


Short answer: Maybe a little. Long Answer:

Last Friday night as part of a series on film noir, the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh had a screening of David Lynch’s twisted surreal drama MULHOLLAND DRIVE. The film was introduced by Independent Weekly Arts Editor David Fellerath who considers the film a masterpiece and one of the greatest of the last 10 years. He asked how many folks were seeing the film for the first time and a surprisingly huge amount of hands were raised. After some background and an attempt at plot summary, he assured the almost full room that 95% of the film holds up to “logical scrutiny”. I’m not so sure about that, but the film did seem to gain levels of coherence that it lacked for me back in 2001. Fellerath had also stated that if anybody still had problems with the film’s meaning afterwards – “there’s lots on the internet.”


There sure is lots on the internet, starting with one of the lengthiest Wikipedia entries for a film that I’ve ever seen with content headings like “Interpretations and Allusions”, detailed character breakdowns, and long intricate paragraphs on the style and critical reception. The references for the entry site 82 articles with such titles as “Nice Film If You Can Get It: Understanding Mulholland Drive (The Guardian) and Salon.com’s “Everything You Were Afraid To Ask About Mulholland Drive” (which Roger Ebert considers “the best explanation”). Another worthwhile read is Anthony Kusich’s “Mulholland Drive…Explained” which deals which the 10 clues that Lynch included in the notes for the original DVD release. The existence of the clues is curious because Lynch was quoted in the New York Times a few years later as saying that DVD extras can “demystify” a film.


Perhaps what Lynch and many critics have proposed is the most sensible way to take MULHOLLAND DRIVE – not to try and make sense of it. Just absorb the mood and visual tones winding through the various narrative strands. Naomi Watts and Laura Elena Harring are either friends turned lovers named Betty and Rita in a dream or the former lovers now estranged Diane and Camilla in reality or vice versa. It appears that Justin Theroux is one of the only constant characters – an arrogant film director who is pressured by Mafioso types, to cast Camilla in his newest film. In one of the most memorably amusing scenes has Theroux meet a cryptic character called “The Cowboy” (Lafayette Montgomery) who tells him: “A man’s attitude goes some ways. The way his life will be.” When The Cowboy can be seen passing through the background of a party scene later on it is impossible not to take as intensely comical.


A turning point comes when Betty and Rita doing some detective work because Rita has lost her memory (she took her name from a Rita Hayworth movie poster) locate a woman’s dead body. Identities then blend (the Igmar Bergman-esque screen capture above says a lot about the merging of identities I believe) with Rita donning a blonde wig and then they shatter completely with the aid of a shiny blue box (that of course appears with no explanation) and then reassemble or emerge from a dream – as when The Cowboy says: “Hey, pretty girl, time to wake up”. Many elements familiar to fans of Lynch fill the frames throughout – among them the darkened old fashioned back room of the mysterious movie studio string puller Mr. Rogue (Michael J. Anderson) wouldn’t have been out of place in the dreams of Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) on Twin Peaks and the creepy Club Silencio that Betty and Rita attend one fateful night is somewhere you would expect to see Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper) from BLUE VELVET lounging around in.


Writting before about the “love/WTF?” relationship I’ve had with the films of David Lynch (“Inland Empire Burlesque” and “Hey, I Finally Saw…ERASERHEAD”) I had decided to let go of the idea of determining definitive meanings and just go with the freaky flow. Wading through the various analyzing articles previously mentioned of this particular film though is still extremely fascinating because many interpretations can exist side by side, none more valid or more convincing than the other. Maybe MULHOLLAND DRIVE doesn’t make any more sense now than it ever did but its captivating spell has indeed grown and its perverse passion is definitely more powerful than when it was first shown in the heady distracting days shortly after 9/11. For those who haven’t seen it before and lived with it for a while, I have to relate this – while the end credits were rolling at the Art Museum last Friday, a irrate woman who was obviously one of those who had earlier raised their hands, was heard complaining: “I’m very upset – it didn’t make any sense! Even PULP FICTION made sense! At the ending it all came together. I mean even AMERICAN BEAUTY made sense too!” So much for discussion, huh?

More later…

A Film Babble Blog Pop Quiz Reprise

To celebrate this being my 200th post (which I know in the bloggosphere is no biggie – my prolific pals at The Playlist have had 1471 posts this year alone!) I decided to re-post a quiz from my 80th post (May 6th, 2007) that didnt get a very satisfactory response first time out. Ive had a lot more hits since then and I ve added a new EXTRA EXTRA CREDIT question so I hope film freak folks will roll up their sleeves, get their #2 pencils, and tackle:

Film Babble Blog’ s Movie & TV Mind Teasers!

The major unanswered questions in the realm of modern pop-culture in a quick n easy pop-quiz format.

1. What was in the briefcase in PULP FICTION?


2. What was in the package that Charlie Meadows (John Goodman) leaves in the care of Barton (John Turturro) in BARTON FINK?

3. What state is Springfield in on The Simpsons?

4. Why (or how) is Chance the Gardener (Peter Sellers) able to walk on water at the end of BEING THERE?

5. How (or why) did Groundhog Day keep repeating to Phil Connors (Bill Murray) in GROUNDHOG DAY?

6. What is the one thing that 13 CONVERSATIONS ABOUT ONE THING is about?

7. Did Mookie (Spike Lee) do the right thing in DO THE RIGHT THING?

8. When the Fonz (Henry Winkler) moved in over the Cunningham’s garage on Happy Days – did he actually pay rent?

9. How on bloody Earth did those images get on that damn videotape in any version of THE RING?

10. Who killed chauffeur Owen Taylor (Dan Wallace) in THE BIG SLEEP?
(Man, if you can answer this…)

EXTRA CREDIT :

Who put the monolith on earth during the opening apes BC segment and on the moon in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY? God or Aliens? Discuss.

EXTRA EXTRA CREDIT:

What does Bill Murray whisper in Scarlett Johansson’ s ear at the end of LOST IN TRANSLATION?

Okay film folks! Don t let me down – take the quiz and send your answers to me as comments below or to my email:

boopbloop7@gmail.com

More later…

5 Sensational Simpsons Cinema Satires

With just under 3 days until the premiere of THE SIMPSONS MOVIE (Dir. David Silverman) it seems like every pop culture site on this whole world wide web has a Simpsons list or celebratory article these days. The Onion A.V. Club has a Simpsons list promised for every day this week – so far we’ve got Monday’s Inventory – “15 Simpsons Moments That Perfectly Captured Their Eras”,Tuesday’s un-numbered “The strangest Simpsons products”, and Wednesday’s The Simpsons Vs. Civilization – all well worth checking out. Vanity Fair recently presented their “survey of the 10 funniest top 10 Simpsons episodes ever”, The London Times chimed in with their “The 33 funniest Simpsons cameos ever”, and even AOL Television did a 25 “Best Episodes Ever list”. Whew!

Being a huge Simpsons fan (and yes, I would defend the recent seasons to anyone) I couldn’t resist making my own list. This being Film Babble it should be cinema-centric and that presented an obvious concept : the best most definitive extended satires of a particular film. Now there are thousands of film references through-out the entire 18 year run of the classic show. Many characters come from the movies like failed salesman Gil who is a Jack Lemmon GLENGARY GLEN ROSS (Dir. James Foley, 1992) archetype, Chief Wiggum’s voice and mannerisms are based on Edward G. Robinson, Apu is named after Satyajit Ray’s THE APU TRILOGY, action star Rainer Wolfcastle is obviously based on Arnold Swartzenegger and so on and so on. It’s hard to think of a movie that hasn’t been name-checked and of course many episodes borrow plots, angles, full screen set-ups and quote exact lines and but these are to me the most notable whether they were full episodes or extended sequences satirizing specific movie classics :

1. “Rosebud” (’93) : A few months back CITIZEN KANE (1941) * made the AFI’s Top 100 list and this episode named, of course, after Charles Foster Kane’s (Orson Welles) last word is Film Babble’s #1 Simpsons Cinema Satire. Not just because it’s a parody/homage to that immense immortal masterpiece but because it’s a phenomenally hilarious episode that has deservedly made many lists. Evil nuclear power plant millionaire C. Montgomery Burns (The C. is for Charles – another similarity to Kane), who keeps a box of Nev-R-Break snow globes at his bed-side longs after his childhood teddy bear Bobo, much like Kane longed after his beloved sled. In a flashback we see that after being abandoned by the pubescent Burns (his father – “Wait, you’ve forgot your bear! A symbol of your lost youth and innocence!”) Bobo has a historical journey involving a plane trip with Charles Lindbergh, a stay in Hitler’s bunker, a trip on the submarine Nautilus before finally ending up in a bag of ice in the present day. Bart purchases the ice at the Quickie Mart and gives the old ragged bear to Maggie. Burns learns of the Simpsons possession and he offers a huge reward but standing by his daughter Homer refuses. Burns’s ineptly funny attempts to steal back Bobo may not recall KANE and a good chunk of the show is the usual Simpsons riffing but the KANE context of the Burns Bobo back-story really puts this one on top. A cameo by the Ramones is the icing on the cake.

* “Rosebud” wasn’t the first or last Simpsons episode to reference CITIZEN KANE. In the 1990 episode “Two Cars In Every Garage and Three Eyes On Every Fish” Burns protests “You can’t do this to me! I’m Charles! Montgomery! Burns!” which obviously comes from “You can’t do this to me! I’m Charles! Foster! Kane!” and in that same episode Burns stands in front of a big poster of himself during his campaign speech. In one DVD commentary the Simpsons staff remark half-jokingly that they have referenced KANE so much that you could recreate the film completely from Simpsons scenes and shot steals.

2. “Cape Feare” (’93) – Just a few episodes before “Rosebud” both the original CAPE FEAR (Dir. J. Lee Thompson, 1962) and the ’92 remake CAPE FEAR (Dir. Martin Scorsese) got their episode length roasting over a Simpsons fire. Substituting Sideshow Bob (voiced by Kelsey Grammer) for recently released revenge minded Max Cady (Robert Mitchum ’62, Robert Deniro ’92) we get essentially the same narrative – A family is stalked by a man he once helped put in jail. The Simpsons in place of the Bowden family leave town and assume new witness relocation identities as The Thompsons and take up residence at Terror Lake. The whole ends in a showdown (actually a performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “H.M.S. Pinafore”) on a houseboat. Also factor into the mix a slice of PSYCHO (Hitchcock, ’60) – Sideshow Bob stays at the Bate’s Motel. A truly inspired episode but silly as can be – on the DVD commentary writer/producer Al Jean even says “when you look at Sideshow Bob and his master plan it really is just to stab this 10 year old boy! I mean when he gets to the boat it’s not very subtle – ‘I want to cut him until he dies!'” There’s that and this priceless Sideshow Bob line when defending his “Die Bart, Die” tattoo in court – “no, that’s German for “The Bart, The!”

3. “The Shinning” (’94) – In this 8 min. segment of “Treehouse Of Horror V” THE SHINING (Dir. Stanley Kubrick, 1980) gets skewered. Burns has the Simpson family act as caretakers for his mansion in the mountains modeled meticulously on the Overlook Hotel in said Kubrick classic. When told by Groundskeeper Willie that he has “the shin-ning”, Bart replies “you mean “the shining!” Willie whispers “shh – you want to get sued?” When leaving for the winter Burns boasts about his cutting off the cable TV and the beer supply – 2 things that Smithers argues may have been the reason the previous caretakers went insane and murdered their families. Burns says “perhaps, if we come back and everyone is slaughtered – I owe you a Coke.” Sure enough in almost no time Homer does go insane. The deconstruction of THE SHINING is a thing of genius here – Marge saying “What he’s typed will be a window into his madness”, the ghost of Moe prompting Homer to kill his family but having no real substantial reason for it – “uh, because they’d be much happier as ghosts” and especially Homer’s take on Jack Nicholson’s over the top antics. When blowing his “Here’s Johnny” intro because he chopped his axe into an empty room – he finally gets the right room and holding up a stopwatch yells “I’m Mike Wallace, I’m Morley Safer, and I’m Ed Bradley, all this and Andy Rooney too on 60 Minutes!”

4. “Cosmic Wars : The Gathering Shadow” from “Co-Dependent’s Day” (’04)– This one is a little odd. I mean STAR WARS (’77-2005) has been directly referred to in many many episodes (go here for a Simpsons Archive List) so to have a likewise film series with a look-alike director (Randal Curtis standing in for George Lucas) seems a bit off. Apparently they didn’t want to name names because it deals with ridiculing the anticipation killing THE PHANTOM MENACE so the Simpsons creators didn’t want to alienate or insult Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox according to Wikipedia. I included it because is has some great prequel parodying moments when breaking down the numbing exposition and specifically satirizing Jar-Jar (Jim-Jam). “Cosmic Wars” only exists for a few minutes so it’s one of many films within the Simpsons and is never mentioned after the episode (they go back to STAR WARS references) so it is a perfect example of what Matt Groening has called “flexible reality” or a “rubber-band universe” – in which something lasts as long as the joke does then the next day it’s gone.

5. “Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala(annoyed grunt)cious” (’97) – The answer to stress so strong it’s making Marge’s hair fall out is for the family to get a nanny but not just any nanny MARY POPPINS! – No wait, make that Shary Bobbins. Julie Andrews was set to play the part but the producers decided on Maggie Roswell to take on the vocal duties of the sweet singing flying umbrella traveling, and just all around neat freak. The episode is a complete musical and uses several melodies from the original 1964 Disney film. It goes back and forth from the respectful tributes in the songs to the crude satire of the cheap animation and outdated morale. In the end crude satire wins – Bobbins dies by getting sucked up in a passing airplane’s jet engine while the Simpsons backs are turned. This episode reportedly had to have the most padding out of any Simpsons – an “Itchy and Scratchy” Quentin Tarentino parody “Reservoir Cats” was a late addition.

That’s the Top Five but special mention should be given to :

“Bart Simpson’s Dracula” (’93) from “Treehouse Of Horror IV”– A dead on spoof of BRAM STROKER’S DRACULA (1992) right down to Burns’ hair-do. Contains better acting than the Coppola version for sure.

“Marge On The Lam” (’93) lampoons THELMA & LOUISE (Dir. Ridley Scott, 1991)

“Two Dozen and One Greyhounds” to the tune of 101 DALMATIONS (1961)

“Deep Space Homer” (’94) steals its ending from 2001 : A SPACE ODDYSEY (1968). Al Jean once said it was a close tie between the large amounts of CITIZEN KANE and Kubrick references on The Simpsons. Maybe when the show is over we can take a tally. I’ve been trying to only deal with more extended parodies because there have been too many snippet steals from movies in the series run but Homer as the space-baby is just too hard to pass up.

“Twenty-Two Short Films About Springfield” (’96)

– This magnificent episode’s title and some of its inspiration comes from THIRTY TWO SHORT FILMS ABOUT GLENN GOULD but it’s really more PULP FICTION as many have acknowledged before me and will again.

And so on and so forth.

The next time I post will be after I see
THE SIMPSONS MOVIE and I will give you a full review. Until then may a noble spirit embiggen your soul.

More later…

DVD Babble Blurb Bash-tacular!

I have seen a lot of recent DVDs over the last few months that I haven’t been blogged about so I thought it would be good to take a break from the summer sequel season and round up a handful and square them off. I tried to keep it in a brief blurb format but since this is film BABBLE the reviews of course wind on and on. Let’s start with –

New Release DVD Recommendations :

LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA (Dir. Clint Eastwood, 2006) Word was that this was vastly superior to FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS but this politically correct companion piece is roughly the same quality in my estimation. Told from the Japanese point of view entirely in their language with sub-titles LETTERS has the same sense of earnest honor and the same grey overcast tint. The standout characters are General Tadamichi Kuribayashi (Ken Watanabe) the young Saigo (Kazunari Ninomira) who run into each other more than once in the tunnels between Mount Saribachi and the north side of the island as bombing and ground attacks by the American troops rage above. The melodrama involving the sympathy that emerges is handled deftly by Eastwood while the sentiment – such as the sunny Speilbergisms that sadly have defined the modern era war-film is kept in check. It may be too much to watch both FLAGS and LETTERS in one sitting or some double feature setting but both even with their glorified old-school faults (most likely from the screenplay written by CRASH * director Paul Hack-ish, oh – I mean Haggis) should not be missed.

* Incidentely my least favorite Best Picture Academy Award winning film ever!


49 UP (Dir. Michael Apted, 2005) The 7th in the excellent documentary series that began in 1964 with the bold statement – “Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man” and followed 14 British children catching up with them every (yep) 7 years. Since most people I know haven’t seen any of these movies I’d highly recommend the Up Series box-set which has the previous 6 films but honestly that’s not absolutely necessary to enjoy this movie. Plenty of clips from all the films inform and enhance the new material and don’t come off as redundant for those who have kept up. It would be too much for me to recount all the names, stories, and economic backgrounds so check out this Wikipedia entry if you are curious. Seeing this group of real people at the various stages of their lives through turmoil and peace makes for extremely satisfying viewing. Bring on 56 UP!

ROCKY BALBOA
(Dir. Sylvester Stallone, 2006)

It’s hard for me to believe this is making my recommendations list. I mean as a kid I hated the ROCKY movies, ridiculed them with other snotty pimpled faced friends, and grew up to believe them to be populist Narcissistic America at its most lame brained epic-wannabes. At some point when I got older I caught the original Best Picture winning ROCKY and found myself liking it. It came from my favorite era of cinema (the 70’s dummy!) and it was grittily touching in its portrayal of the boxing underdog making a name for himself. Then sequel-itis set in and the character became a machine who could never lose in glitzy gimmicky match-ups with Mr. T (III) and that evil Russian powerhouse played by Dolph Lundgren (IV) – yes that’s right – Rocky was going to win the Cold War! I never even saw ROCKY V (1990) – so why do I like and recommend ROCKY BALBOA? Because we have Stallone at his most likable – an aging humble simpleton running a restaurant named after his deceased wife Adrian (Talia Shire – who is not deceased; she just didn’t return to the series), telling the same fight stories, and brushing off daily indignities. It seems oddly necessary for Stallone to return to his Rocky roots – this is his best and most definable character and even with the contrived ‘inspired by a video game simulation Rocky gets an exhibition match with the current troubled champ Mason ‘The Line Dixon’ (Antonio Tarver)’ scenario, I hate to admit it but it works. Bring on JOHN RAMBO! Okay, no wait – that’s a bit much.

And now :

New Release DVD Disses :

BOBBY (Dir. Emilio Estevez, 2006) I had heard the news upon its theatrical release that this was a NASHVILLE remake – relocated to the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles with the RFK assassination the backdrop to a convoluted mishmash of over 20 cliched ’60s stereotypes. I held out ’til it came in that red Netflix envelope because of my love for political period pieces but damn was that description right on the money! The Altman derived framework doesn’t disguise the awful screenplay with ham-fisted base dialogue like Nick Cannon playing an insufferably idealistic Kennedy staffer emoting “now that Dr. King is gone – no one left but Bobby. No one.” Cannon joins an ace cast including Anthony Hopkins, Lawrence Fishborne, William H. Macy, Harry Belfonte, Christian Slater (one of the few non-idealist characters – he plays a base racist), and Estevez’s Daddy Martin Sheen. Not so ace actors here include Elijah Wood, Lindsay Lohan, Demi Moore and Estevez himself. The cringe inducing cliches pile up – Ashton Kutcher does his worst acting ever (can’t believe that was possible) as a hippy that would look phony on Dragnet 1967– during a horrifyingly stupid acid trip sequence actually sits staring at an orange in his hand saying “no, you shut up!”, every TV set has a perfect quality picture of carefully chosen clips of RFK speeches and there’s even a MAGNOLIA-esque montage going from strained close-up shots actor to actor. Can’t deny the heart that went into this movie but all we have here is an A-list cast, B-list production values, C-list cliches, D-list overused soundtrack standards, and an F-list script. Somebody revoke Estevez’s cinematic license! He should be exiled to the TV movie circuit after this film felony.

SMOKIN’ ACES (Dir. Joe Carnahan, 2007) Another better than average cast slumming it through derivative drivel. Flashy Vegas gangster caper in which every one in the cast is after sleazy magician soon to be snitch Buddy Aces (Jeremy Piven – pictured on the left). Some are trying to protect him – (lawyer Curtis Armstrong, FBI agents Ryan Reynolds and Ray Liotta under the supervision of chief Andy Garcia) but everybody else is trying to kill him including Alicia Keys, Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman, and rapper Common – okay yeah so it’s not A-list but most of them are still better than the material in this worn entry into the PULP FICTIONGET SHORTYLOCK STOCKGO sweepstakes that expired over a decade ago. Kind of like Shane Black’s also post-dated glib witless KISS KISS BANG BANG (2005) SMOKIN’ ACES is a lesson in how quick cutting and hip-hopisms don’t ensure a clever crafty meta-movie. Just say Tarenti-NO to this piece of pop-nonsense.

This post (especially the disses) is dedicated to Good Morning America critic Joel Siegel (1943-2007). He became a film babble hero when he walked out of a screening of CLERKS II last summer. Knowing his days were numbered he figured he didn’t want to waste his last hours on that crap. The fact that it pissed off Kevin Smith was the icing on the cake! Check out Roger Ebert’s heartfelt tribute.


More later…

Movie & TV Mind Teasers – A Film Babble Pop Quiz

It’s film babble blog’s 80th post! So I thought instead of the regular movie review babble I’d indulge in a sideline love of mine:

MOVIE & TV MIND TEASERS!

Or : the major unanswered questions in the realm of modern pop-culture in a quick ‘n easy pop-quiz format.

1. What was in the briefcase in PULP FICTION?


2. What was in the package that Charlie Meadows (John Goodman) leaves in the care of Barton (John Turturro) in BARTON FINK?

3. What state is Springfield in on The Simpsons?

4. Why (or how) is Chance the Gardener (Peter Sellers) able to walk on water at the end of BEING THERE?

5. How (or why) did Groundhog Day keep repeating to Phil Connors (Bill Murray) in GROUNDHOG DAY?

6. What is the one thing that 13 CONVERSATIONS ABOUT ONE THING is about?


7. Did Mookie (Spike Lee) do the right thing in DO THE RIGHT THING?

8. When the Fonz (Henry Winkler) moved in over the Cunningham’s garage on Happy Days – did he actually pay rent?

9. How on bloody Earth did those images get on that damn videotape in any version of THE RING?

10. Who killed chauffeur Owen Taylor (Dan Wallace) in THE BIG SLEEP?
(Man, if you can answer this…)

EXTRA CREDIT :
Who put the monolith on earth during the apes BC segment and on the moon in 2001 in 2001 : A SPACE ODYSSEY?
God or Aliens? – Discuss.

EXTRA EXTRA CREDIT:

Why in Christ’s name did Rose (Gloria Stuart) throw the extremely valuable necklace with the diamond into the ocean in TITANIC?!!? I mean it could have helped out her struggling artist daughter and funded further research on the damn boat sinking bullshit – for Christ’s sake! Someone please explain it to me!!!!

Send your answers to :

boopbloop7@gmail.com

More later…