Deep Cuts: “Fear City” 1984 Dir. Abel Ferrara

25 Feb

With Tom Berenger, Billy Dee Williams, Melanie Griffith, Jack Scalia, Rae Dawn Chong and Michael V. Gazzo

“There’s nothing I hate more than guineas in Cadillacs.” –Al Wheeler (Billy Dee Williams)

    I absolutely love Abel Ferrara’s films. While I might not enjoy watching them, I do appreciate and respect the shit out of them. I’ve seen most of his films, and they’re very hard to come by. His staples, “Bad Lieutenant”, “Dangerous Game” and “The Funeral” are floating around on DVD, but it’s his deeper cuts that are very, very hard to come by. This is mainly due to the fact that most of his films fail to find distribution.

If Ferrara ever made a mainstream film, it would be “Fear City”. Starring, at the time, an A-list cast, which is very unusual for a Ferrara film. This film, much like his others, takes place in New York City where the city is turned upside down by a serial killer who is preying on strippers.

    Tom Berenger headlines the cast as Matt Rossi, a former boxer who is now a talent agent for strippers. He runs the agency with his best friend and partner, Nicky (Jack Scalia). Rossi lines up all the girls for most of the clubs in New York that the Italian mob owns and runs.

He frequents one club that’s run by Michael V. Gazzo (most known from “Godfather 2″ and “Fingers”) to see his ex-girlfriend Loretta (Melanie Griffith) perform. Rossi is a complex character; he’s haunted by his last boxing match that left the other fighter dead. He’s also trying to vie for the attention of Loretta, and now he’s out to find the serial killer.

    Billy Dee Williams gives a command performance as Al Wheeler, a hardnosed vice cop who now works for homicide. He’s also on the hunt for the serial killer, all the while clashing with the mob and Rossi. Williams has always been an excellent character actor, and I will always think of him as Lando and the original Harvey Dent, but in this film, he’s the anti-Lando. He’s terrific.

“Fear City” is a very strange and bizarre film. What else would you expect from Ferrara? This film is very choppy and disjointed, due to two reasons. The first is because the version I watched (DVD from Amazon) is the “cut” version that edits out a lot the gruesome violence and unapologetic nudity that was in the original cut. I’m Not saying the version I watched is tame, because it’s not.

The second reason this is such a disjointed movie is because that is essentially Ferrara’s authorship. All of his films aren’t cohesive or even coherent. Why should they be? Life isn’t. Ferrara and his screenwriting partner Nicholas St. John create yet another film that displays the dark side of humanity that doesn’t need explanations or accountability, because the evil that brews inside this killer reminds me much of Travis Bickle, he is a manifestation of society.

    What I found really fascinating about this film is the fact that the serial killer in the film isn’t given a name and even more interesting is that he’s not even credited in the film. He’s an actor I’ve never seen before, and while searching the IMDb message boards and using the Google Machine, I still can’t find out who this guy is. But I can tell you one thing; he scared the shit out of me in this movie.

“Fear City” is available for purchase on DVD on Amazon, and also to rent on Amazon Prime for $1.99.

Rating: 8/10

“Take Shelter” – 2011 Dir. Jeff Nichols

21 Feb

With Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Tova Stewart, Shea Whigham and Kathy Baker

“Is anyone seeing this?”

    “Take Shelter” seemed to follow the trend of the 2011 spectacle films like “The Tree of Life”, “Melancholia”, and Abel Ferrera’s “444: Last Day on Earth”. I missed this movie in theaters and I was really excited to rent this movie, considering it currently trends with a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes and much critical appraise for Michael Shannon.


    I did not dig this movie. While the premise of this film, Curtis (Shannon) having premonitions of an apocalypse, and we can’t decide weather (get the pun?) or not they are actual foreshadowings, or if it is a hereditary mental illness (his mother, played briefly by Kathy Baker, is held up in an assisted living place because she’s mentally ill).

    The first act of this film builds really nicely, and Curtis is a very complex character. He has a loving and beautiful wife, played by the remarkable Jessica Chastian, and an adorable as well as deaf daughter. Curtis takes out a loan, borrows construction equipment from his work to construct a very big storm shelter in his back yard. The dreams that Curtis has are very frightening, but by the time unwinds, and then spins to a “gotcha” ending, I could have cared less about Curtis, or his family or especially the movie.

    Michael Shannon was good in the movie, but he wasn’t anything remarkable, and wasn’t anything that you wouldn’t have expected him to be. He essentially plays the same character he plays in “Revolutionary Road” and “My Son, My Son What Have Ye Done?”. I don’t mean to take away from Shannon’s performance, it was very good, but a lot of bloggers and Oscar Sayers keep sighting his performance as the biggest Oscar snub since (insert name here).


    It’s really not. Albert Brooks not getting nominated for “Drive” is the biggest Oscar snub since (insert name here).

    After the film closes with its “gotcha” ending, it just didn’t make much sense to me, not that I didn’t understand the ending of the movie, it’s obvious, but the events and dreams Curtis’ had had leading up the ending that just don’t make a lot of sense, it really doesn’t add up.

    “Take Shelter” is a very good effort by writer/director Jeff Nichols, but it comes up very short, and it isn’t daring, or anything particularly special, it’s just rather bland.

Rating: 6/10

    

Top Ten Movie Presidents

20 Feb

Since today is President’s Day, I wanted to be just as cliché and in vogue as the rest of the bloggers and film sites out on the internts! Enjoy, yet another list, from me.

10. Jack Nicholson, “Mars Attacks”


9. Bill Pullman, “Independence Day”


8. Harrison Ford, “Air Force One”


7. Michael Douglas, “The American President”


6. Jack Lemmon and James Garner, “My Fellow Americans”


5. John Travolta, “Primary Colors”


4. Peter Sellers, “Dr. Strangelove”


3. Anthony Hopkins, “Nixon”


2. Jeff Bridges, “The Contender”


1. Henry Fonda, “Fail/Safe”

102 Greatest Performances of All Time

19 Feb

Well this took me a couple of weeks to decide who to put on this list and where. Believe me; I know there are a TON of great, great, great performances that I had to leave out of this list. There are many great actors who appear on this list, and not on this list. Look, homeboy had to make some concessions. There are a few blatant omissions on this list. Some of the omissions are made up for by that actor’s performance in a different film, that I found was a similar performance to said left out performance, but I deemed the including performance superior. Also, some performances that were left out of this list, which show up on every other acting list, I don’t find as remarkable as most do. Sorry and enjoy.

102. Peter Weller, “Robocop”

“Dead or alive, you’re coming with me.”


101. Nick Nolte, “The Thin Red Line”

“The closer you are to Caesar, the greater the fear.”


100. David Strathairn, “Good Night, and Good Luck”

“We cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home. Good night, and good luck.”


99. Albert Brooks, “Drive”

“My partner is a belligerent asshole with his back against the wall, and now – so am I.”


98. Christopher Plummer, “The Insider”

“What the hell do you think I am? A 78 year-old assassin? You think I’m gonna karate him to death with this notepad?”


97. Ray Liotta, “Goodfellas”

“As far back as I can remember I always wanted to be a gangster.”


96. Eric Bogosian, “Talk Radio”

“You’re fascinated by the gory details! You’re mesmerized by your own fear. You revel in floods, car accidents, unstoppable diseases, you’re happiest when others are in pain. That’s where I come in isn’t it? I’m here to lead you by the hand through the dark forest of your own hatred and anger and humiliation.”


95. Dianne Ladd, “Wild at Heart”

“Don’t turn away from love, Sailor.”


94. Brad Pitt, “12 Monkey’s”

“You know what crazy is? Crazy is majority rules. Take germs, for example.”


93. Bill Murray, “Lost in Translation”

“The more you know who you are, and what you want, the less you let things upset you.”


92. Viggo Mortensen, “Eastern Promises”

“Anger is dangerous. It makes people do stupid things.”


91. Brian Cox, “Manhunter”

“Don’t think you can persuade me with appeals to my intellectual vanity.”


90. Bruce Dern, “Coming Home”

“What I’m saying is – I do not belong in this house!”


89. Michael Douglas, “Wall Street”

“Every battle is won, before it is fought.”


88. Thomas Jane, “Boogie Nights”

“He’s got coke and he’s got cash, in that safe, in that bedroom and if we leave here without it, man we’re fuckin’ idiots, man! We came here to motherfuckin’ do something and we can fucking do it, alright? Are you with me?”


87. Michael Rooker, “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer”

“If you shoot someone in the head with a .45 every time you kill somebody, it becomes like your fingerprint, see? But if you strangle one, stab another, and one you cut up, and one you don’t, then the police don’t know what to do. They think you’re four different people. What they really want, what makes their job so much easier, is pattern. What they call a modus operandi. That’s Latin. Bet you didn’t know any Latin, did you kid?”


86. Gene Hackman, “The Conversation”

“I’m not afraid of death, but I am afraid of murder.”


85. Gary Oldman, “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”

“We are not so very different, you and I. We’ve both spent our lives looking for the weaknesses in one another.”


84. Paul Newman, “Hud”

“I’ll remember you, honey. You’re the one that got away.”


83. Robert Duvall, “Apocalypse Now”

“Charlie don’t surf!”


82. Tom Cruise, “Magnolia”

“In this life, it’s not what you hope for, it’s not what you deserve – it’s what you take.”



81. Warren Oates, “Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia”

“Nobody loses all the time.”


80. Jeff Bridges, “True Grit”

“You go for a man hard enough and fast enough, he don’t have time to think about how many’s with him; he thinks about himself, and how he might get clear of that wrath that’s about to set down on him.”


79. Robert De Niro, “Cape Fear”

“You learn about loss.”


78. Russell Crowe, “The Insider”

“I’m just a commodity to you, aren’t I? I could be anything. Right? Anything worth putting on between commercials.”


77. Helen Mirren, “The Long Good Friday”

“Don’t treat me like one of your thugs!”


76. Mickey Rourke, “Barfly”

“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.”


75. Dennis Hopper, “Blue Velvet”

“In dreams, I walk with you. In dreams, I talk with you.”


74. Jodie Foster, “The Accused”

“You don’t understand how I feel! I’m standing there with my pants down and my crotch hung out for the world to see and three guys are sticking it to me, a bunch of other guys are yelling and clapping and you’re standing there telling me that that’s the best you can do. Well, if that’s the best you could do, then your best sucks! Now, I don’t know what you got for selling me out, but I sure as shit hope it was worth it!”


73. Anthony Hopkins, “Silence of the Lambs”

“You use Evian skin cream, and sometimes you wear L’Air du Temps, but not today.”


72. Willem Dafoe, “The Last Temptation of Christ”

“It is, accomplished!”


71. Uma Thurman, “Pulp Fiction”

“Ketchup.”


70. Rock Hudson, “All That Heaven Allows”

“I can’t shoot straight anymore.”


69. William Hurt, “The Big Chill”

“A long time ago we knew each other for a short period of time; you don’t know anything about me. It was easy back then. No one had a cushier berth than we did. It’s not surprising our friendship could survive that. It’s only out there in the real world that it gets tough.”


68. Colin Firth, “The King’s Speech”

“Because I bloody well stammer!”


67. Harvey Keitel, “Mean Streets”

“You know what the Queen said? If I had balls, I’d be King.”



66. Heath Ledger, “The Dark Knight”

“Come on, I want you to do it, I want you to do it. Come on, hit me. HIT ME!”


65. Javier Bardem, “No Country for Old Men”

“Anywhere not in your pocket. Where it’ll get mixed in with the others and become just a coin. Which it is.”


64. Nicolas Cage, “The Bad Lieutenant – Port of Call: New Orleans”

“Do you have any coke? I accidentally snorted heroine.”


63. Liam Neeson, “Schindler’s List”

“What are you doing? These are mine. These are my workers. They should be on my train. They’re skilled ammunition workers. They’re essential. Essential girls!”


62. Johnny Depp, “Ed Wood”

“Boy, Mr. Lugosi, you must lead such an exciting life! When is your next picture coming out?”


61. Morgan Freeman, “Million Dollar Baby”

“Frankie likes to say that boxing is an unnatural act, that everything in boxing is backwards: sometimes the best way to deliver a punch is to step back… But step back too far and you ain’t fighting at all.”


60. Christian Bale, “American Psycho”

“My mask of sanity is about to slip.”


59. Don Cheadle, “Hotel Rwanda”

“They told me I was one of them, and I… the wine, chocolates, cigars, style… I swallowed it. I swallowed it, I swallowed all of it. And they handed me their shit. I have no… no history. I have no memory. I’m a fool.”


58. Robert Mitchum, “Night of the Hunter”

“Children? Ohhhhh children!”


57. Jack Nicholson, “Chinatown”

“Have you ever head of the expression: let sleeping dogs lie?”


56. Hillary Swank, “Boys Don’t Cry”

“Dear Lana, by the time you read this I’ll be back home in Lincoln. I’m scared of what’s ahead, but when I think of you I know I’ll be able to go on. You were right, Memphis isn’t that far off. I’ll be taking that trip down the highway before too long. I’ll be waiting for you. Love always and forever, Brandon.”


55. John Malkovich, “Being John Malkovich”

“I have seen a world that NO man should see!”


54. Tom Berenger, “Platoon”

“Shut up! Shut up and take the pain! Take the pain!”


53. Marlon Brando, “The Godfather”

“I said that I would see you because I had heard that you were a serious man, to be treated with respect. But I must say no to you and let me give you my reasons. It’s true I have a lot of friends in politics, but they wouldn’t be so friendly if they knew my business was drugs instead of gambling which they consider a harmless vice. But drugs, that’s a dirty business.”


52. Dustin Hoffman, “Tootsie”

“I don’t believe in hell. I believe in unemployment, but not hell.”


51. Kevin Spacey, “American Beauty”

“I feel like I’ve been in a coma for the past twenty years. And I’m just now waking up.”


50. Benicio Del Toro, “Che”

“Executions? Yes, we have executed. We execute, and we’ll continue to execute.”


49. Gena Rowlands, “A Woman Under the Influence”

“All of a sudden, I miss everyone…”


48. Colin Firth, “A Single Man”

“It takes time in the morning for me to become George, time to adjust to what is expected of George and how he is to behave. By the time I have dressed and put the final layer of polish on the now slightly stiff but quite perfect George I know fully what part I’m supposed to play.”


47. Kevin Kline, “Sophie’s Choice”

“This toast is in honor of my disassociation of you two creeps. Disassociation from you, coony captive cunt of king’s county. And you, the dreary dregs of dixie.”


46. Jack Lemmon, “Save the Tiger”

“The government has a word for survival. It’s called fraud.”


45. Al Pacino, “Godfather Part 2″

“Fredo, you’re nothing to me now. You’re not a brother, you’re not a friend. I don’t want to know you or what you do. I don’t want to see you at the hotels, I don’t want you near my house. When you see our mother, I want to know a day in advance, so I won’t be there. You understand?”


44. Michael Fassbender, “Shame”

“Slowly…”


43. Denzel Washington, “Malcolm X”

“Cats that hung out together trying to find a solution found nothing. Cats that might have probed space or cured cancer, West Indian Archie might haved been a mathematical genius… but we were all victims of the American social order.”


42. Dustin Hoffman, “Lenny”

“Did you know that Eleanor Roosevelt gave Lou Gehrig the clap?”


41. Jimmy Stewart, “It’s a Wonderful Life”

“What is it you want, Mary? What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down. Hey. That’s a pretty good idea. I’ll give you the moon, Mary.”


40. Tommy Lee Jones, “Natural Born Killers”

“LIVE ON NATIONAL TV? JESUS HAROLD CHRIST ON A FUCKING RUBBER CRUTCH, IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME?”


39. Min-sik Choi, “Oldboy”

“Even though I’m no more than a monster – don’t I, too, have the right to live?”


38. Gary Oldman, “The Contender”

“What I say the American people will believe. And do you know why? Because I will have a very big microphone in front of me.”


37. Henry Fonda, “12 Angry Men”

“It’s always difficult to keep personal prejudice out of a thing like this.”


36. Christoph Waltz, “Inglorious Basterds”

“What a tremendously hostile world that a rat must endure. Yet not only does he survive, he thrives. Because our little foe has an instinct for survival and preservation second to none… And that Monsieur is what a Jew shares with a rat.”


35. Tie – Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf”

“You’re a wicked, wicked woman – Martha.”


34. Charlotte Gainsbourg, “Antichrist”

“Nature is Satin’s church.”


33. Daniel Day-Lewis, “In the Name of the Father”

“Was I always bad, was I?”


32. Nick Nolte, “Affliction”

“Love? What the fuck do you know about love?”


31. Humphrey Bogart, “Treasure of the Sierra Madre”

“Nobody puts one over on Fred C. Dobbs.”


30. Katharine Hepburn, “Bringing Up Baby”

“Your golf ball, your running board, your car? Is there anything in the world that doesn’t belong to you?”


29. Paul Newman, “The Verdict”

“You couldn’t hack it as a lawyer. You were a bag man for the boys downtown and you still are, I know about you.”


28. William Hurt, “A History of Violence”

“When you dream, are you still Joey?”


27. Heath Ledger, “Brokeback Mountain”

“You don’t know nothin’ about that.”


26. Bob Hoskins, “Mona Lisa”

“She was trapped. From the first time he met her. She was trapped. Like a bird in a cage. But he couldn’t see it.”


25. Marlon Brando, “On the Waterfront”

“I coulda been somebody.”


24. Ellen Burstyn, “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore”

“If you ask me that one more time, I’m gonna beat you to death. Just sit back there and relax and enjoy life, huh?”


23. Al Pacino, “Dog Day Afternoon”

“I don’t wanna talk to some flunky pig trying to calm me man.”


22. Gregory Peck, “The Boys from Brazil”

“Do you know what I saw on the television in my motel room at one o’clock this morning? Films of Hitler! They are showing films about the war! The movement! People are fascinated! The time is ripe! Adolf Hitler is alive!”


21. Robert De Niro, “Taxi Driver”

“You’re only as healthy as you feel.”


20. Jeff Bridges, “The Door in the Floor”

“Don’t you ever, never ever, open the door in the floor.”


19. Sean Penn, “21 Grams”

“The earth turned to bring us closer. It turned on itself and in us, until it finally brought us together in this dream.”


18. Ben Kinsley, “Gandhi”

“Whenever I despair, I remember that the way of truth and love has always won. There may be tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they may seem invincible, but in the end, they always fail. Think of it: always.”


17. Peter Sellers, “Dr. Strangelove”

“I can – WALK!”


16. Tom Hanks, “Philadelphia”

“I’m ready.”


15. Jack Lemmon, “Glengarry Glen Ross”

“What does that mean? Why would it not… Oh, fuck you. You do not know your job. That’s what I’m saying. You do not know your job. That’s what I’m saying. A man IS his job and you are fucked at yours.”


14. Meryl Streep, “The Iron Lady”

“It used to be about trying to do something. Now it’s about trying to be someone.”


13. Roy Scheider, “All That Jazz”

“To be on the wire is life. The rest is waiting.”


12. Harvey Keitel, “Bad Lieutenant”

“I’m sorry Lord, I’ve done so many bad things.”


11. Daniel Day-Lewis, “Gangs of New York”

“I die, a true American.”


10. Ralph Fiennes, “Schindler’s List”

“I pardon you.”


9. Jack Nicholson, “Five Easy Pieces”

“I move around a lot, not because I’m looking for anything really, but ’cause I’m getting away from things that get bad if I stay.”


8. Marlon Brando, “A Streetcar Named Desire”

“I never met a dame yet that didn’t know if she was good-looking or not without being told, and there’s some of them that give themselves credit for more than they’ve got.”


7. Robert De Niro, “Raging Bull”

“That’s entertainment.”


6. Peter O’Toole, “Lawrence of Arabia”

“I pray that I may never see the desert again. Hear me, God.”


5. Jimmy Stewart, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”

“Either I’m dead right, or I’m crazy!”


4. William Hurt, “Kiss of the Spider Woman”

“The nicest thing about feeling happy is that you think you’ll never be unhappy again.”


3. Daniel Day-Lewis, “There Will Be Blood”

“I’m FINISHED!”


2. Meryl Streep, “Sophie’s Choice”

“No! No! Don’t make me choose! Please!”


  1. Daniel Day-Lewis, “My Left Foot”

    “Fuck all love that is not 100 percent commitment!”


“Mississippi Burning” 1988 Dir. Alan Parker

18 Feb


With Gene Hackman, Willem Dafoe, Frances McDormand, Brad Dourif, R. Lee Ermey, Stephen Tobolowsky, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Kevin Dunn and Michael Rooker

“You know, [baseball] it’s the only time when a black man can wave a stick at a white man and not start a riot”

    “Mississippi Burning” is an agenda movie. Plain and simple. The film is made by Alan Parker, who also directed the liberal guilt ridden film, “The Life of David Gale” which made an extremely strong case against the death penalty. Here, Parker unapologetically shines a light on America’s worst trait – racism.

    Taking place in Mississippi in the 1960’s, the most fertile landscape for birth of America’s decline as a Great Society, Parker fictionalizes the true story of three civil rights activists, two white and one black, who are killed by the KKK. Two FBI men are sent in, Willem Dafoe as the by the book bleeding heart liberal, and the realist played by Gene Hackman.


    The two men turn the small southern town upside-down, trying to find the three “missing” men. They both use different tactics. Dafoe, being the “outsider” calls in a slew of FBI and naval reserves to comb the rural landscape for any clues to the men’s disappearance. All the while Hackman uses a much different and more successful tactic, brute intimidation.

    The band of Klansmen are made up of a plethora of great character actors, stemming from Brad Dourif, R. Lee Ermey, Stephen Tobolowsky, Pruitt Taylor Vince to the scariest of all of them, Michael Rooker. Each actor paints a cliché yet realistic portrait of the American bigot.


    Gene Hackman turns in a career highlight of a performance as a former Mississippi sheriff turned G-man who has a complete understanding of the racial issues that plague the American south. His performance is a more heroic turn of Popeye Doyle from “The French Connection”, the performance that earned him his first Oscar, and also set the typecast and tone for the rest of his career.

    “Mississippi Burning” is an agenda film, but that doesn’t take anything away from the powerful and moving story about the American Experience fused with the good cop/bad cop genre movie. Alan Parker is an incredibly talented filmmaker who is able to construct multiple bodies of work, consisting of the “liberal guilt” films, music films (“Pink Floyd’s The Wall”, “The Commitments”, “Evita” ) and the very dark portraits of humanity (“Angel Heart” and “Midnight Express”). “Mississippi Burning” is a film that still holds up true to this day.

“Mississippi Burning” is available to watch on Netflix Instant.


Rating: 8.5/10

Happy Valentine’s Day!

14 Feb

Dustin Hoffman’s Top Ten Performances

12 Feb

    I’m obsessed with HBO’s new series “Luck”. I was sold on the announcement of the show especially when it’s starring Dustin Hoffman, Nick Nolte and Dennis Farina, and I after watching the pilot five times, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s the best television pilot that I’ve ever seen. Hoffman headlining, as well as producing, “Luck” marks the first time that an A list actor has starred in a television show. Maybe this will pave the way for others like Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino or Robert DeNiro to headline a show? Here are my top ten Hoffman performances.

“Lenny” 1974 Dir. Bob Fosse


“Tootsie” 1982 Dir. Sydney Pollack


“Luck” – Pilot 2012 Dir. Michael Mann


“Rainman” 1988 Dir. Barry Levinson


“Little Big Man” 1970 Dir. Arthur Penn


“Straw Dogs” 1971 Dir. Sam Peckinpah


“Wag the Dog” 1997 Dir. Barry Levinson


“Hook” 1991 Dir. Steven Spieberg


“Marathon Man” 1976 Dir. John Schlesinger


“Dick Tracy” 1990 Dir. Warren Beatty

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