September 23rd, 2010

WALL STREET (1987) ***

Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) is a young stock broker who is tired of cold calling old fuckers for investment opportunities.  He finally nuts up and gets a hold of Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), a big time Wall Street player who makes a million dollars before breakfast.  Fox gives him an insider tip to invest in his father’s company and Gordon takes the tip and makes a fortune.  He then hires Bud to snoop around the city for more tips, which is clearly an ethical violation.  Since Bud is a money grubbing yuppie, he chucks ethics out the window.  But when Gekko tries to liquidate his father’s company, Bud sets out to beat Gordon at his own game.


I have to admit, I never was one for the stock market and what I know about The Wall Street Journal you could probably fit in a pea pod.  Director Oliver Stone didn’t really fill in any blanks for me either.  To me, the stock market is just a bunch of yuppies in suits yelling at each other.  And I hate yuppies just about as much as I hate hippies.  So naturally, this material isn’t nearly as interesting to me as say, soldiers in Vietnam or alcoholic photojournalists in El Salvador.


Another strike against the movie is that the story is pretty one-note.  You already know Bud’s going to go from a green stock broker to money grubbing yuppie.  You already know Gekko is going to fuck him over.  You already know Fox is going to fuck Gekko over.  I mean his name is “Fox” so you’ve got to assume he’s sly and crafty and Gekko is obviously cold-blooded and slimy.  I think a four year old could’ve seen the symbolism here.


That said, this is still a pretty good movie.  That’s mostly because Douglas is the fucking man.  You know the dude is fucking evil as all get out but he’s so damn charming that you just have to love the bastard.  I’m not the biggest Michael Douglas fan in the world but he rocks the house in this flick.  I mean, there’s a reason why they always show that “Greed is good” monologue every time somebody is doing a retrospective on the man.  Sheen’s role isn’t as flashy so it’s basically just a thankless role playing second fiddle to Douglas.  And since the movie is all about scumbag yuppies, you know that The Spade Man himself, James Spader is gonna show up.


And here’s something else I didn’t get:  The Daryl Hannah character.  She’s just not hot enough for you to really think that Sheen would basically sell his soul to go to bed with her.  She’s okay but she’s definitely not Audrina hot or anything.  Her subplot doesn’t add anything to the movie and she’s plenty annoying.  Still, the flick sizzles whenever Douglas is buying and selling people’s asses, so it’s still a worthwhile, if minor entry in Oliver Stone’s oeuvre.    

THE KEEPER (2010) ** ½

Steven Seagal stars as a cop who is taken off active duty due to an injury.  To make some quick cash, he agrees to be a bodyguard for his rich buddy’s hot daughter (Liezl Carstens) after she is almost kidnapped.  Turns out that daddy’s past shady business dealings have come back to bite him on the ass and his ex-business associate wants to kidnap her for a big payday.  Of course, Seagal ain’t gonna let that shit happen.


The Keeper really gets off on the wrong foot when it sets up Seagal’s character’s back story.  It takes a good twenty minutes to establish that A) He was a former cop.  B) His partner double crossed him.  C)  He suffered injuries so severe that he couldn’t be a cop anymore.  All of this could’ve been settled via a five minute montage and/or flashback but they drag it out until the breaking point.  If the flick had hacked off this useless prologue, The Keeper would’ve been one of Seagal’s best latter day efforts.


The good news is that The Keeper is filled with a fair amount of solid action sequences that feature a nice balance of shootouts, chases, and Kung Fu.  The bullet squibs are juicy and Seagal sticks a couple mofo’s real good with a big ass knife.  Although he may rely on a body double for dialogue scenes, I didn’t notice his stunt double during the action sequences, so that was a plus.  Besides, you have to dig any Seagal movie in which his dialect goes from Cajun to Texan to Ebonics, often times in the same scene.  I guess we could refer to this dialect as “Seagalese”.


The Sexual Story of O has nothing whatsoever to do with The Story of O.  I guess director Jess Franco was aware of that, so to distinguish it from The Story of O, he added the word “Sexual” to the title.  As if The Story of O was already sexual to begin with.


A chick spends her vacation reading Norman Mailer buck naked and prancing around so her neighbors can see her.  After watching them fuck, she joins them for some three-way action.  She eventually falls in love with the dude, Mario and he likewise falls for her too.  That makes his decision to sell her to a crazy, S & M obsessed, serial killing couple especially hard.  When the couple ties her up and beat her to death, Mario says enough is enough and blows them away with a shotgun.


The Sexual Story of O consists of a lot of long, mostly unsexy sex scenes.  Overall, the flick features a lot of skin but none of the women are hot or anything.  Even worse is that all of the chicks sport pussies that look like an Arby’s roast beef sandwich hiding inside of a Halloween fright wig.  Yech.  I did admire how Franco managed to squeeze about 5 minutes of actual plot into the 85 minute film though. 


The flick is plenty bad but it still has it’s merits.  I loved the English subtitles.  They were funny as Hell.  I particularly liked the way whenever someone was moaning in pleasure; the subtitles felt the need to translate “MHM” and “AAH!”  And while we’re on the subject of screenwriting, I must admit that even though the flick is mostly crap, you can’t really go wrong with lines like, “You’re a pervert, but I love you.”


A rock ‘n roll group go to a bizarre small town to play a concert.  Even though they are warned several times to leave, they still stick around.  They spend the night at a mansion where a hot chick, mutant midgets, and a werewolf grandma live.  I guess since all of these kinds of weirdoes usually appear in rock videos, the band thinks it’s okay to stay there.  Big mistake.  Before the night is over, the band winds up getting killed by their hosts.  At their funeral, one of their fans plays their newest song, which features a medieval incantation to raise the dead.  Naturally, the group comes back as zombies to get revenge.


Hard Rock Zombies is a blatantly stupid movie that is so cheesy that it’s hard to actually enjoy.  At least with Troma movies, there’s a tongue in cheek campiness that makes them fun, but here the jokes are so desperate that they make Troma seem dignified.  I mean you know you’re in trouble when the main villain is revealed to be Adolf Hitler.


Then there’s the fact that our “heroes” are the lamest excuse for a band in the history of music.  These guys are about as hard rock as Richard Marx.  They dress like roadies for Billy Ray Cyrus, run around in fast motion like The Monkees, and one guy even does a mime routine.  If that’s your idea of “hard rock” you better pray you don’t meet me in the mosh pit.


The gore is okay though.  There’s a weed whacker to the stomach, some gut ripping, severed hands, lots of decapitated heads, and a Psycho inspired shower scene.  And some hot blonde whips her tits out a few times, so it’s not a total loss or anything.

TALK RADIO (1988) ****

Whenever people are discussing great Oliver Stone movies, they usually neglect mentioning this intense drama written by and starring Eric (Under Siege 2:  Dark Territory) Bogosian.  Not many people can make one guy with a microphone talking in a radio station suspenseful and gripping but Stone is one of them.  Talk Radio is another one of Stone’s overlooked underappreciated gems.


Bogosian stars as Barry Champlain, a late night shock jock whose rantings and ravings draw the ire of his listeners.  Whenever they call in to the station, Champlain spews his venom at the callers before hanging up on them.  When one of his rants infuriates some Neo-Nazis, they threaten his life on the air.  Nonplussed by the pressure put on by his producer (Alec Baldwin) or his demented listeners, Champlain continues to run his mouth with tragic results.


Talk Radio is a movie about the consequences of Free Speech.  Even though his listeners threaten his life and his sponsors get antsy, Champlain never sells out and waters down his act.  He may have alienated his co-workers and ruined his marriage in the process, but to Champlain, he got to say his peace and that’s what really mattered.


Talk Radio is also an impressive vehicle for Bogosian’s talent.  The film had it’s origins in a one-man show and he is so good in the flick that it still would’ve been great if there weren’t any supporting players.  He gives an amazing performance and you really hang on his every word.


To Stone’s credit, he’s not just content to let Bogosian rant and rave.  He really does some interesting things with the camera, like the De Palma-ish 360 degree turns and predatory Steadicam shots.  Although the scenes outside of the radio station aren’t quite as involving or interesting, whenever Bogosian is behind the mike, Talk Radio is nothing short of electrifying.


Tamara Dobson returns as Cleopatra Jones in this lukewarm sequel.  This time out, she’s trying to save some brothers from the clutches of the evil Dragon Lady (Stella Stevens).  Even though Cleopatra’s a lone wolf type of gal, her boss (Norman Fell) makes her partner up with a karate chopping chick named Mi Ling (Tanny) and together they bust the Dragon Lady’s titular gambling palace.


I liked the original Cleopatra Jones and this one wasn’t bad but it kinda left you wanting more.  The biggest disappointment came from the fact that Cleopatra often gets lost in her own movie.  Her sidekick gets all the best action sequences (like when she fights a bunch of dudes while her arms are tied up) and Stevens steals the show as the lesbian Dragon Lady.  It also doesn’t help that Cleopatra always wears a shit ton of make-up and some truly stupid looking outfits.  (She looks like Grace Jones after a Goodwill Store shopping spree.)


Warner Brothers was clearly hoping to ride the coattails of their successful Enter the Dragon, so there’s lots of Kung Fu action in this one.  Again, Cleopatra doesn’t partake too much in the chopsocky but there’s enough of it here to keep you mildly entertained.  The Hong Kong location work is impressive too and adds some pizzazz to the proceedings.


And the flick also contains one of my favorite Only in the Movies moments:  The old Look-Through-the-Henchmen’s-Pockets-and-Find-a-Matchbook-with-the-Villain’s-Location-On-it routine.  I always love it in old movies when the hero finds a matchbook to a night club or bar that acts as a hideout for the bad guy.  Then in the next scene the hero always walks into said club and instantly tips off the villain that he’s on to him.  I don’t know if you can still get away with scenes like this nowadays.  I mean, less and less people are smoking now, so it would become harder for heroes to catch a lucky break like that.  Even worse is if the henchman was trying to quit smoking and all he had in his pockets was some Nicorette gum.  And what happens if the dude uses a lighter?  I guess you’re just shit out of luck. 


Albert Popwell gets the best line of the movie when he tells a henchman, “We’re on C.P.T.  That’s Colored People Time!”


I was never one of those Dungeons and Dragons nerds, but for whatever reason, I saw that one Dungeons and Dragons movie that everyone in the history of the universe hated INCLUDING the D & D nerds it was made squarely for.  (Hey nerds, I hated it too, so don’t feel bad.)  At least that flick had the benefit of a clearly embarrassed Jeremy Irons acting bat shit insane.  This sorry sequel has no such luxuries.


I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking:  “Mitch, if you hated the first movie, then why on God’s green earth did you watch this straight to SyFy Channel flick?”  Well, the reasons are numerous.  One, I had room on my DVR.  Two, well… I had no memory of actually putting it on the DVR, but I figured, what the Hell, I’ll watch it anyway.  Three, uh… there is no three.  Look, I said I had “numerous” reasons, and numerous means “more than one”, so two reasons qualifies as numerous.


Anyway, the plot of this one centers around this d… ah, fuck it.  It’s a bunch of fucking dudes fighting dragons and chicks casting spells; plain and simple.  Basically, it looks just like an average episode of Hercules.  Except not as good.  Heck, it’s not even up to snuff with D & D Parto Uno.  Maybe if Jeremy Irons was around to chew up some scenery and spit it out, it might’ve been a different story. 


On the plus side, there is a good scene where the bad guy “eats” by having an Orc stick a funnel into his spine and then it pours a mess of slop in there.  Then there’s a sorta inventive scene involving a frozen dragon that breathes ice instead of fire.  Other than that, you don’t need some twelve-sided dice to tell you this one’s gonna suck.


AKA:  Dungeons and Dragons 2:  The Elemental Might.