REVIEW CAPSULES: MENTAL INSTABILITY & FUTURISTIC GLADIATORS

If you’ve listened to my most recent recording of the Movies You Love Podcast, which if you haven’t you should subscribe to, where I talked about all my current feelings about writing and how it tied into me not working and generally feeling a little bit lethargic and distracted in being proactive about this website, then yay you. Wow that’s a long sentence. All those things still remain true, but damn me if I don’t try to keep chugging along nonetheless.

I’ve been doing this weekly update of just listing the films I’ve been watching with a running total of what’s been happening in my film discoveries for the last couple years that I’ve dubbed What I’ve Been Watching — guys… I’m really bad at coming up with names for stuff — which was mainly inspired by Mr. McNeil (or the man that runs movie blogging I believe) and helped suffice for a post to fill in a Saturday while I was trying to remain a post-a-day kind of guy. Well a post-a-day guy I am not any longer. I’ll still be updating the site as time goes by, but with my tenacity at keeping my Letterboxd up to date on a daily basis when I do watch films I find it almost useless to do the weekly update.

So here’s my solution to this problem. I tend, for the most part to see approximately five to ten films a week and even at the height of my post-a-day style I would only write about two of them in full review form. I’m going to try and do a full review thought process a week, but at the same time there are some films where I feel a good 100-word capsule (if I can limit myself that much) would do nicely, along with a at that point in time count update for my film watching experiences (and you can fill in the rest of the blanks of the count via Letterboxd; seriously follow me there…).

So let’s get this train started with a weird pairing:

BAD LIEUTENANT (1992) (dir. Abel Ferrera)

Bad Lieutenant - 92

With the crime of a nun being raped kicking off the film along we follow Harvey Keitel as the moralistically fluid Lieutenant. We follow him and his investigation for the next week as he gambles away all the money he doesn’t have on the Dodgers against the Mets in a playoff series, hits up drug dealers for a hit, gains sexual favours from unaware girls trying to save themselves an arrest, and just generally making us know that the lawmakers don’t always follow the laws that much.

Films like this make me question how true the prompt of, “which did you see first?” really is. I love Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans and it’s for most of the wrong reasons as to why I love most Nicolas Cage films; i.e. because their brilliant insanity on screen. Whoever figured out that Cage was the antithesis of sanity in cinema should be awarded a medal. The problem is that I walked in expecting what I got in 2009, but the truth of the matter is that cinema didn’t have the same energy in the early 90s that it does now. Today films are somewhat more kinetic than they were then and it shows here. It has all the same elements of debauchery and general insanity as we watch Keitel break every law you can imagine, but somehow it doesn’t have the same effect as when we watch Cage ask us about our lucky crack pipe or is imagining iguanas everywhere in the film. Should I fault the film for this? Probably not, but I’m going to anyways.

Grade: ★★☆☆

THE RUNNING MAN (1987) (dir. Paul Michael Glazer)

The Running Man

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career in cinema is one that is, just like with Bad Lieutenant, one that defies logic in ways that baffles and amazes me at the same time. He’s the man who was strong enough to lift the crazy props people built for science fiction sets so Hollywood just went with it, and I guess the visual appeal of his muscles didn’t hurt either. This time around as a framed police officer Arnold is imprisoned unjustly and socially outcast as someone who’s believed to have massacred a large group of unarmed civilians. After escaping from prison he’s captured and made to take part in the most popular current television game show, The Running Man, where contestants (prisoners) are made to do battle against gladiators who are fighting to the death. While the show runners expected a better outing with Schwarzenegger’s muscles they didn’t expect him to do this well in the games.

There’s a special place in my heart for the 80s and Schwarzenegger films. They are so dumb that they barely try to make sense and there’s always a plethora of one liners that Arnold rattles off in his Austrian accent that just toes the line between being ridiculously off-kilter crazy and at the same time comical. It’s almost as if we time warp to 1942 and are hearing a propagandist caricature in a weird Saturday morning cartoon that we’d be saddened to see today. However, the faults of this film exceed it’s much more surface level joys. The film is longer than most of the films of this time and not for the better. The action is limited and a lot of the supporting members on Team-Arnold are weak at best, including a really annoying female arm candy character played by Maria Conchita Alonso.

Grade: ★★☆☆

My count for the year of 2014 is updated to 141 First time watches (34 from 2014); 62 Rewatches; 203 Total Films

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Author: Andrew Robinson

This is my blog. There are many others like it, but this one is mine. My blog is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. Without me, my blog is useless. Without my blog, I am useless. I must fire my blog true. I will. Before God I swear this creed: my blog and myself are defenders of my mind, we are the masters of our enemy, we are the saviors of my life. So be it, until there is no enemy, but peace. Amen.