“Bloodworth” – 2011. Dir. Shane Dax Taylor

With Kris Kristofferson, Val Kilmer, Hillary Duff, W. Earl Brown, Frances Conroy, Reece Thompson and Dwight Yoakam

Music by T. Bone Burnett

“I’ve been shot at more times than I’ve been hit. I’ve always considered myself ahead of the game. I just never knew how to quit.” – E. F. Bloodworth (Kris Kristofferson)

 

    The new Indie film “Bloodworth” may lead you to believe it’s in line with “Crazy Heart” since it’s about a country singer E. F. Bloodworth (Kris Kristofferson) coming home after abandoning his wife (Frances Conroy) and his three children Warren (Val Kilmer), Boyd (Dwight Yoakam) and Brady (W. Earl Brown) fourty years ago for a life on the road as a country western musician. He’s come home not to reconcile with his children or his wife, not to explain himself, but to die.

    This film is the furthest thing for “Crazy Heart”.

    E. F. Bloodworth is unapologetic. He doesn’t feel the need to explain himself to anyone. He’s hard, he’s mean, and he’s real. What makes this film very effective is that it’s not the typical pappy crap you’d expect from a film like this. This film deals with, for lack of a better phrase, a history of evilness.

    Each one of Bloodworth’s sons is a bad man. Not just bad, but truly evil men. Warren owns a bar, he’s a drug addict and a womanizer. Boyd is a disgruntled ex husband, who travels to Nashville to look up his ex wife, because Warren had told Boyd that he’s seen her with another man, and that she just signed a record deal. Warren isn’t telling this to Boyd to help him, but to be sadistic.

    Brady, the oldest of the boys, looks after the matriarch of the Bloodworth family, played by an ever-so-fragile Frances Conroy. Brady believes that he can put curses on people, and each curse he puts on a person is to kill them. He believes he has a special bond with God, and that by putting curses on people, he is serving the Lord.

Take that Sarah Palin!

    The only sense of normality in the Bloodworth family is Boyd’s son Fleming (played very effectively by Reece Thompson). Fleming is a bring young thing, he’s an avid reader, and dreams of being a writer, but everything is holding him back – his father, his new found girlfriend Raven (Hillary Duff) who gets pregnant by another member of the Bloodworth family.

    Kris Kristofferson absolutely nails the part as E. F. Bloodworth. He’s a man who’s filled with wisdom, but who also protects himself with a lot of hard bark that he’s accumulated over the years. I know it won’t happen, but it’s for damn sure that Kris Kristofferson should get a nomination for Best Actor in a Lead Role at this year’s Academy Awards.

    Dwight Yoakam, who usually brings his A game to the roles he plays, is excellent in this film. It seems to me that Yoakam usually takes on roles that were meant for Billy Bob Thornton, doesn’t it? The most impressive thing about this film, too me, is the fact that Val Kilmer is actually really, really, really good. I’m talking “Tombstone” good. What happened to you Val Kilmer? Your ass used to be beautiful. I miss you, boo.

    This is a film that takes you on a strange and bizarre journey. It’s honest and unapologetic, and while watching this you may feel like the story doesn’t have a direction too it, once the end of the film closes – everything comes together perfectly – at least in my mind.

Rating: 8.5/10

    

Quote of the Day #1

I’m going to start a new daily post creatively titled: Quote of the Day.

It’s unique I know – but hey, we all LOVE quotes don’t we?

So for the Pompous Film Snob’s first quote, I give you this:

“Some folks hate the whites who hate the blacks who hate the clan.
Most of us hate anything that we don’t understand.”

From Kris Kristofferson’s fourth album: “Jesus Was a Capricorn”

I don’t think truer words were ever spoken. This is a great song that talks about contradictions and the hypocrisy that we carry with us every day.  Think about in the terms of film; ask most people who’ve seen “Mulholland Dr” or “Antichrist” what they think about it.

“Oh, I hate that fuckin’ movie!”

“Really why?”

“I have no clue what it’s about.  Fuck it.”

Now that may be a slight exaggeration – but I’m not to far off.  You know what I do when I don’t understand something?  I look it up, I read peoples blogs, someones thoughts about the film/book/lyric/theory – whatever it is.  It’s so much easier to “hate” something or someone then to understand it.

Got any good quotes? Suggest them and they may just find their way on here.

“Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” – 1974. Dir. Martin Scorsese

With Ellen Durstyn, Kris Kristofferson, Alfred Lutter III, Billy Green Bush, with Harvey Keitel Jodie Foster, and Diane Ladd.

“So who’s stoppin’ ya?… Pack your bags; I’ll take you to Monterey… I don’t give a damn about that ranch.”

-David (Kris Kristofferson)

Alice Hyatt is on her own. Her dominant husband (Billy Green Bush) just died in a car accident and Alice her young son Tommy (Alfred Lutter III) are left to fend for themselves. Alice then embarks with Tommy to travel to Monterey so Alice can start a career as a singer.

Alice arrives in Phoenix where she gets a job at a bar singing and she meets a young and suave man named Ben (Harvey Keitel). Alice starts to feel like she’s beginning to stabilize her life. Things seem to be going well with her singing in a bar and her relationship with Ben.

Ben’s wife eventually shows up and asks Alice to stop seeing him. Alice is unaware that Ben was married and she is mortified. Ben shows up at Alice’s hotel room. He demands to be let in and when he’s not he busts open the door and chases after his wife, knocking her to the ground and kicking her out of the door. He then turns his rage on Alice and begins screaming at her and threatens her with fatal violence. Harvey Keitel is frightening in this scene.

Alice once again picks up and now travels to Tucson where she gets a job at a diner. Diane Ladd is the matriarch of the diner and Alice reluctantly allows Ladd to take her under her wing. She meets David (Kris Kristofferson) who is the embodiment of the ideal man who walks through fire to court Alice.

Alice’s son Tommy meets a girl a little older then him (Jodie Foster) and the two of them begin to pal around and muse about life together. I can’t stress this enough, but Alfred Lutter is amazing in this film. I am so impressed with his acting.

This is a film that was a passion of Burstyn’s. She found the script and wanted to make the film more than anything. She was looking for a young and creative director to make the film, she phoned Francis Ford Coppola to get his advice and he told her to watch the film “Mean Streets”. Scorsese was quickly hired to direct the film and asked Burstyn to teach him about women.

This is the first film to deal with the woman’s movement – dealing with the independence of women. The entire point of the film is that a woman can support herself, that she can survive without a man and still raise her son on her own. Ellen Burstyn gives one of the best performances that I have ever seen (which she won an Oscar for). She is absolutely delightful in this film.

The acting in this film is what stands out above the screenplay and Scorsese’s direction. Burstyn gives a great performance that is so symbiotic with the other actors in the film. Alfred Lutter who plays her son is such a wonderful actor and holds his own against Burstyn. Harvey Keitel is just tough as nails (when isn’t he?) and Kris Kristofferson brings the house down.

The climactic showdown between Burstyn and Kristofferson in the diner is a wonderful scene. The dialogue is so rich and real – it makes us completely understand both of these characters. Emotion just flows out of both of these two great actors and we are completely taken by them the entire film. We are rutting for Alice to get to Monetary – yet we are rooting for David to get Alice to stay and live with him on his ranch.

This film is very important for women’s liberation – but I also think it’s a film about wanting/needing/deserving a second chance. I’m not sure what to call this genre but it’s very important and it’s very surreal.

This film is brilliantly crafted by Scorsese’s direction. Even though this isn’t a personal film for Scorsese, he puts his own label on it. He makes it his own. The opening credit sequence is a wonderful homage to “The Wizard of Oz” and the long takes and steady cam shots that Scorsese uses lets us know it’s his film without us knowing it’s his film.

Review: 9.5/10


The Art of the Crossover: Actors turned Singers & Singers turned Actors.

While listening to a Kris Kristofferson album, it got me thinking lately about singers turned actors; than even further – actors turned singers. I am going to exclude rap if that’s okay with you. I’ve always thought it was an interesting paradox; I’ve noticed that a lot of actors are musically inclined and even have tried to venture out on their own and release their own music. I understand why singers turn to acting – because they are at the height of their popularity and they’ve been turned into a cash cow (Neil Diamond in “The Jazz Singer” for example). I feel that way about rap musicians; the only reason that they turned to acting was because they were extremely marketable at the time and they never really have taken a risk with the roles they chose. But when actors turn to music, to me it feels like that music is their true passion (or their biggest hobby). I know there have been many, many crossovers, but I think these are the three best in each category, meaning that the quality of both their music and their acting are excellent.

I am the Wanderer – my home is the road

David Carradine has always had a soft spot in my heart. I was very sad when he died. I’ve always enjoyed his earlier works with Scorsese: “Boxcar Bertha” and “Mean Streets” and of course the TV Show “Kung-Fu” but it wasn’t until I saw Carradine as Woody Guthrie in Hal Ashby’s “Bound for Glory”, I really took him seriously as an artist. Portraying Woody Guthrie is gigantic feat and Carradine did an amazing job. I own his album “As Is” and his music is great. It’s a wonderful folk album and lyrically Carradine is as rich with his writing as Kris Kristofferson or Bob Dylan – the lyrics are simple yet hold this complex power that makes it truly authentic.

It’s obvious that Carradine is very much influenced by Eastern philosophies which I think is a direct reflection on the folk music he sings. The Eastern themes are a direct representation of Carradine’s folk music – the path that men take, why they take them. These Eastern themes are in step with any great western film ever made. Sam Peckinpah strived to “make a western as good as Kurosawa”.

I bought his album from his official website and if you do like Carradine or like folk music, please check it out. It is well worth your time. If you click the link, and listen to any of the tracks available – please listen to “The Wanderer” – it’s excellent and I think completely sums up David Carradine as a man. Enjoy.

The genius of David Carradine.

When The Dude meets Woody Guthrie

Before Jeff Bridges broke our hearts as Bad Blake in “Crazy Heart”, and most people were taken aback by his musical capability; Bridges released an album in 2000 entitled “Be Here Soon” and it’s nothing like Bad Blake. Jeff Bridges remains to be one of my favorite people ever – I am so smitten with him. “Be Here Soon” is a hybrid of folk and beatnik music – it’s incredibly unique and incredibly excellent. Along with finally collecting his long overdue Oscar for “Crazy Heart”, he is not only a musician but a photographer (his collecting of stills from a majority of his the film sets he’s worked on titled “Pictures” is amazingly profound) but he’s also a painter.

The music of his album is incredibly insightful and filled with innuendo and intrigue. He muses and philosophies with an admirable amount of passion and artistic skill. The first track of the album called “Movin'” is a perfect representation of who Bridges is as a man. “Be Here Soon” is Bridges first and only album, but his “follow up” is the “Crazy Heart” soundtrack. I find that the best track of the film is the track that opens the film – “Hold on You”. We all can relate to this song – there has always been at least one person in our lives that we’ve been trying to get a hold on.

The “Crazy Heart” soundtrack is available everywhere and his album “Be Here Soon” is available at Amazon.com and the iTunes music store. You won’t be disappointed.

The Egotistical Talent that can’t be ignored

We all know that Kevin Spacey holds an unbelievable amount of talent – anyone who disagrees with that is a fool. I also think since Spacey won his second Oscar for “American Beauty” his ego inflated so much that he hasn’t strived to give a challenging performance since then. The only exception that can be made is his labor of love “Beyond the Sea” which isn’t a great film, but it’s still very enjoyable. Spacey portrays the crooner Bobby Darin. Spacey not only stars, but wrote, directed, produced and sang in the film – he did it all. He did too much.

His singing is the best part of the film. Spacey’s voice is so smooth it just makes you groove with the music you are hearing, it absorbs into you. Spacey had been known for his musical capability prior to this film. He hosted a tribute concert for John Lennon in the early 2000’s and as the show was getting to a close Spacey himself performed “Mind Games” – it was excellent. Spacey truly is an incredible performer – his stage presence is untouchable.

While Spacey was out promoting “Beyond the Sea” he did a concert tour performing Bobby Darin songs and other standards from that era. Being from Chicago I was excited that Spacey was coming to The House of Blues until you had to be 21 and older to enter. I really wish I could have seen him.

Nightmares are somebody’s daydreams

Kris Kristofferson started out as another musician that had fallen prey to crossing over to cinema. He was popular, hip, and handsome and had a big following. It wasn’t until Kristofferson teamed up with Sam Peckinpah to star as Billy the Kid in “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid” that he became an actor. Kristofferson himself is a gentle and kind man, but his turn as Billy the Kid turned him into a steely cold killer. The film is violent and relentless. Kristofferson made a name for himself as an actor AND a musician.

From there Kristofferson went on to make Martin Scorsese’s “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” where he plays the ideal man; the tough, gruff man who has a heart of gold. He’s nothing less than excellent in “Alice”. He’s this big bad man who walks tall, but deep down inside he’s a teddy bear that just wants to love and take care of Alice. It’s an excellent film with excellent performances from the entire cast.

That same year Kristofferson reteamed with Peckinpah for a small role as Biker in “Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia”. In this role he plays the scum of the earth and rapes the main characters girlfriend. It’s amazing how Kristofferson has the unbelievable range from going to one extreme to the other. He went from David in “Alice” to Biker in “Alfredo Garcia”. Kristofferson is not only one of my favorite musicians – but also one of my favorite actors.

Kristofferson had a bit of a lull in the 1980’s but he reemerged in the 90’s showing up in “Payback” (which reteamed him with James Coburn who played Pay Garrett), “A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries” and the “Blade” trilogy and narrating the unconventional Bob Dylan biopic “I’m Not There” and of course his amazing performance in “Lone Star”.


Putting out a fire with gasoline

David Bowie is an enigma wrapped in a riddle. His music is odd and compelling. Everyone in the world loves at least one David Bowie song. What I love about David Bowie is his unconventional career. He is one of the best crossover actors that I’ve seen. “The Man Who Fell to Earth” remains one of my favorite films. It’s so unique and strange that with the casting of David Bowie – it helps us accept the film for what it is.

His turn in David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me” as Special Agent Phillip Jefferies is so bizarre you can’t even comprehend it (although how many David Lynch films are easy to comprehend?). My two favorite Bowie performances are his performance in Martin Scorsese’s “The Last Temptation of Christ” as Pontius Pilate which I think is even more bizarre than his role in “Twin Peaks”.

My second favorite Bowie performance is as Nikola Telsa in Christopher Nolan’s “The Prestige”. It was so genius of Nolan to cast Bowie. Telsa was a very strange and mysterious man and so is David Bowie. It was a perfect fit. It added authenticity and even more mystique to the character by adding Bowie. Christopher Nolan not only knows how to write a screenplay and direct a movie – but he hasn’t made one misstep in any of his films with casting. How many filmmakers can you say that about?

And how could anyone not appreciate his role as Jareth the Goblin King in “Labyrinth”? And no one could ever play Andy Warhol as good as Bowie in “Basquiat”.

“I hate Disneyland. It primes our kids for Las Vegas.”

Tom Waits’ film choices are just as offbeat and stirring as his music. Waits is an extremely talented musician that has taken select roles in his long and winding career. His music is almost an acquired taste – as are some of the roles he’s played. Waits is a close family friend of the Coppola family and he is often cast in Francis Ford Coppola’s films. Waits is also in many of Jim Jarmusch’s films and those films are defiantly an acquired taste.

The performance that I think seals Waits’ craft as an actor is in the mediocre Coppola film “Dracula” where he portrays Count Dracula’s underling R.M. Reinfield. He is so creepy and almost stomach turning as the mentally unstable man that is confined in a straight jacket in a disgusting and disturbing mental hospital. He and Gary Oldman are the only two that save that film from being a train wreck.

His role as the Engineer in “The Book of Eli” was something of a treat that I really enjoyed. I loved how he snuck into the film, making a character that was insignificant to the story interesting just by having Tom Waits play the character. I felt that “Eli” was a train wreck of a film, but again – Gary Oldman saved the film (with a little help from Waits). I haven’t seen “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” yet but Tom Waits looks divine in it.

So that is my list thus far folks. Give me your feedback, what do you think of my choices? And what are yours? I know I left some prominent crossover artists out, but I’ll be working on part two really soon. Gimme your feedback! I want to have a debate!

Deep Cuts: “Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia” – 1974. Dir. Sam Peckinpah.

With Warren Oates, Isela Vega, Robert Webber, Gig Young, Emilio Fernandez, and Kris Kristofferson

“Listen! The church cuts off the feet, fingers, any other goddamn thing from the Saints don’t they?! Well what the hell? Alfredo’s our Saint! He’s the Saint of our money and I’m gonna borrow a piece of him.”


Peckinpah’s films and his center characters all deal with a world that has left them behind. In this film we find Bennie (Warren Oates) in a small cantina in Mexico where he plays the piano. Just by a matter of chance two impeccably well dressed Americans (Robert Weber and Gig Young) who are working for a drug lord (Emilio Fernandez) are on a mission to bring back the head of Alfredo Garcia; walk into Bennie’s cantina and ask around.

Robert Weber and Gig Young

These two Americans are older and gentle looking but they are just fucking brutally ruthless – as well as lovers (as in homosexuals). The scene is set up to where Bennie is playing a tune on the piano with his sunglasses on, and Webber and Young enter, everyone grows quiet. They delicately mingle and ask about their “old chum” Alfredo Garcia. No one has heard of him. They set their sights on Bennie who has been watching them cautiously. They approach Bennie, and he tries to soften them up, by calling over two girls for Webber and Young. They women begin to rub the men’s shoulders and whisper sweet nothings in Spanish to them. The men seem to enjoy it – and then Webber elbows one of the women in the face and knocks her out cold. Bennie asks why they want Garcia and Young calmly replies, “we want him dead.”

This is one tough fucking movie.

Of course Bennie knows nothing about Alfredo Garcia. They leave their hotel information with him before they leave. As soon as the two men jet, Bennie rushes out to find his girlfriend. She’s what you would essentially call an escort for rich Americans but she did spend some time with Alfredo Garcia a couple of nights ago to say goodbye to him.

She tells Bennie that Alfredo got into a horrible car accident and his body is still lying in whatever ditch he drove into. Oates quickly leaves his lady friend and heads out to the hotel where Young and Weber are staying; he walks into the room that is filled with other creepy white guys a couple more Americans and a few Germans. Bennie alludes to the two Americans that he may know where to find Garcia. They offer him 10,000 dollars to bring his head back. He asks for 5,000 upfront and they give it to him with one condition: bring Alfredo Garcia’s head back in four days, or we are coming after you.

Bennie and his girlfriend head out in search for the wreck armed with a pistol and a brand new machete. What ensues is the making of an epic film that stands among the best of Peckinpah’s catalog of epically great films.

One scene has always stuck out in my mind every time I think back to the film. While Bennie and his girl are resting in a field eating dinner – Bennie finally proposes to his girlfriend and she is so overwhelmed with joy. It’s the first time we see both of them happy. Then rides up two American bikers (now remember, this film takes place somewhere in the Mexican dessert). The two bikers are played by Kris Kristofferson and Donnie Fritts (Kristofferson’s frequent musical collaborator). Kristofferson is the alpha of the duo and proceeds to rape Bennie’s girlfriend.

Riders on the Storm.

This incredibly small role that Kristofferson had played has always stuck with me. The character (credited as “Biker”) is the scum of the earth. He drags Oates’ girlfriend into the tall grass and pulls a switchblade and cuts her shirt down the middle, ripping it open, exposing her bare breasts. She slaps him, and then he proceeds to slap her – knocking her down.

Now just think about this: Kristofferson was not only an established country/folk superstar and actor who starred in Peckinpah’s “Pat Garret and Billy the Kid” where he plays the legendary Billy the Kid a year prior to this film, and in the same year as this film starred in Martin Scorsese’s “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” where he played the embodiment of what a man should be AND he was also extremely popular in the religious community due to his strong faith (always sighting Christ as his hero) and had recorded a ton of Gospel music. Imagine how this small role might have changed his image?

Kris Kristofferson has got some fucking balls.

The rest of the film builds up to an epic showdown of Bennie racing to get Garcia’s head before Robert Webber and Gig Young catch up with him. This builds up to a monumental showdown that isn’t quite worthy of the ending of “The Wild Bunch” – but it’s not too far off.

Bottom line this film boils down to the western film noir hybrid much like “Lone Star”, “Blood Simple” or “No Country for Old Men”. It fuses the two genres perfectly. Probably my favorite aspect of the film is that a decent part of the dialogue is spoken in Spanish yet there aren’t any subtitles to help guide us – but we still know what’s going on. “Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia” remains to be one of Peckinpah’s best and it’s the only film Peckinpah himself had final cut on. Far fuckin’ out man. Far out…

Review: 9.8/10

“Fire Down Below” – 1997. Dir. Felix Enriquez Alcala.

With Stevan Seagal, Stephen Lang, Levon Helm, Randy Travis, Marg Helgenberger with Harry Dean Stanton and Kris Kristofferson.

“Do you want me to take him out?”

“Son, you couldn’t take out a cheeseburger from a drive-through”

I own a majority of Seagal’s earlier films. I think they are so bad they are good (aside from “Under Siege” which is actually good). In “Fire Down Below” we find Seagal now an EPA Agent who gets sent to some small town in Virginia to investigate a millionaire (Kristofferson) who owns coal mines or something and has been dumping toxic waste into a river or a lake.

Seagal enters the town undercover as a Missionary through the town’s church to help people fix up their homes. The town’s preacher is Levon Helms (The Band’s front man) who introduces Seagal to the townsfolk. He takes a liking to Sarah (Helgenberger) who lives with her brother Earl (Stephen Lang) who had molested her as a child. Kinda intense for a Seagal film…

This movie is so fucking bad it’s awesome. The cast alone is sweet. Harry Dean Stanton who is always worthy of a good performance, plays the town “retard” – although he’s sharp as a tack and just plays that so Kristofferson and his goons leave him alone.

Stephen Lang is enjoyable in the typical cliché bad man role, Randy Travis is cool as a quick drawing dirty FBI Agent and Kristofferson is tough as fucking nails as the heavy. He’s so smooth and cool he rivals Dean Martin. Kristofferson just has the aura around him that just makes him so fucking cool.

The writing is vintage Seagal film – it’s so fucking campy and filled with slap yourself in the forehead one liners. I don’t know whose idea it was to have Seagal as a leading man in action films but it did work for quite a while. He had a nice little run…until he hired personal assistants as sex toys.

Review: 7/10

The Highwaymen

This is honestly the best song I’ve ever heard in my life.  I have a hard time picking which is the better supergroup – The Highwaymen or The Traveling Wilburys.

Aside from that dilema, I also have a hard time picking my favorite Highwayman…

What do you guys think?

Who’s your favorite?