Thursday, February 18, 2010

Summer Rental - 1985 - Dir: Carl Reiner
Location: Jenny's Brother's House

This was one of the few films I watched while away from my house due to a power line being down. I love John Candy and have somehow managed to not see all of his films. This shall be rectified. I started with this summer comedy and it has some great moments but will not vault to the top of my Candy list. He plays a workaholic air traffic controller who is forced to take a vacation for some rest so he rents a cabin by the ocean in Florida for a couple weeks. Of course everything that could go wrong does for the benefit of the viewer. Richard Crenna plays a champion sailor who doesn't want to put up with all of the summer renters and takes an interest in Candy. His only real friends made on the trip are Rip Torn as a pirate/restaurant owner and a woman with a large husband who wants him to feel and look at her boob job.

This is a fun movie and don't just take it from me. I'll give you two words to solidify this as awesome. John Larroquette. That's right, he plays a single father in the area. Just too bad he's not in more scenes. Pick up the
DVD here. Be prepared for more John Candy goodness to come!

Smokin' Aces - 2006 - Dir: Joe Carnahan
Location: Marcus' House

I remember seeing the trailers for this and wanting to check it out, but for whatever reason never did. Since Jenny and I would be staying in Marcus' spare bedroom and he was already planning on watching this with a friend, we joined in. A hit is put out on Buddy Israel (Jeremy Piven), a Vegas magician turned criminal turned snitch, and he flees to a casino in Lake Tahoe where many hitmen will do their best to take him down for the boss. What follows are the different contract killers trying to get the target around a bunch of action and gun play.

There isn't much to the film, and it's pretty predictable, but damn it's fun to watch. All of the action just makes me giddy as does the slick editing between all of the different players. Piven does some sweet card tricks as the magician, if it's really him, that make me want to call out my inner GOB Bluth. Ryan Reynolds is an FBI agent working to protect Israel before his testimony but in some surprise he doesn't have the usual cool guy way about him. I like it!

I know there's a direct-to-DVD sequel and I'm sure it's bad, but I'll be watching it anyhow. Pick up Smokin' Aces on Blu here, or standard DVD here.

The Principal - 1987 - Dir: Christopher Cain
Location: Marcus' House

Here's one I used to watch with my dad as part of the many action flicks we saw together. It had been a long time and I was curious to see how it held up after all these years. The answer is about what I expected, not great. Jim Belushi plays a teacher who gets arrested and then forced to take the principal position at a very tough inner city high school or lose his job. When I think of tough schools I would never think of something like this. These kids cannot get expelled for anything, even though they never go to class, fight constantly and use/sell drugs on campus. The one thing a student finally gets kicked out for is the beating and attempted rape of his teacher (Rae Dawn Chong). Luckily he has the help of the head of school's security Louis Gossett, Jr!

There is so much cheesy dialog in this film it's hard to believe. I can understand the need for Belushi to stand up to the kids and try to change things, but does he have to sound like such a lame-o while doing so? The action is decent at times, especially when Belushi races through the halls of the school, and up the stairs, on his motorcycle. So many absurd things are crammed into this film that when you get to the climax of a student coming to kill the principal with no cops around you just accept it. I guess that's how things work in that neighborhood. If you want to enrich your life by watching this grand piece of cinema then pick up the
DVD here.

Prom Night in Mississippi - 2009 - Dir: Paul Saltzman
Location: Marcus' House

Here is a documentary about something I didn't think even still existed. The film takes place in 2008 when actor Morgan Freeman made an offer to a high school in the small town of Charleston, Mississippi that he would pay for their prom if they would integrate the students. That's right, in 2008 this school had separate proms for the white and black students, even though the school had been integrated since 1970. The filmmakers follow along with the students as they share their thoughts on the situation and the few bumps along the way.

I find it hard to believe that this small town, which is predominately black, puts up with something like this. The few they talk about say that it's basically not worth the fight and just accept it as something that happens in this town. It does seem that not many people move into the town, most people have been there for quite some time. Still, it's shocking that the rest of the country hasn't been in uproar over this. I can see this doc being shown in classrooms all over the U.S. to bring a new view to students who, like me, thought these practices died out before they were born. Check it out
right here.

Gomorrah - 2008 - Dir: Matteo Garrone
Location: The Comfort of MY House!

Now that I was finally back on my couch and had electricity and heat I was ready to watch something. I picked the Criterion Blu-Ray release of this recent organized crime themed film. This is very different from The Godfather films or Goodfellas. There isn't a lot of glitz and glamor on the screen, just the dirty underbelly of modern day Italy's crime syndicate. Five different stories play out in the way they deal with the mob and what becomes of their lives because of it. This shows that just because Hollywood tells you these criminals live lavishly that doesn't mean it's true.

Gamorrah also doesn't move as quickly as the mob films you're used to. In fact, it's quite slow most of the time. But if you stick with the picture things build into a really strong film with an eye-opening effect. Using a mostly handheld camera/steadicam technique it really adds to the realism and feels like a documentary at times. Don't expect the high action and intensity of City of God but the message is just as strong. You can grab Criterion's Blu-Ray here, or their DVD here.


btsjunkie said...

I really need to see THE PRINCIPAL!

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