Up next… CLASS OF 1999 (1990) - 5/10
IT’S 1999. SCHOOL IS A WARZONE. THE LATEST IN AUTOMATIC WEAPONS ARE THE TEACHERS
First time watch and watching after recently reviewing the new CLASS OF 1984 release from @101.films.
Although the reality is CLASS OF 1999 isn’t really a sequel to ’84 at all, it takes many of the ideas from the first but presents them in an entirely different way. It manages to be even more ridiculous but probably tips the balance of absurdity I’m willing to enjoy in a dystopian actioner such as this.
Welcome to the future - the year is 1999 and gangs have taken over the major cities of the USA, which are now known as “free-fire” zones because the police are too scared to enter. The principle of Kennedy High School decides to take back control by enlisting a robotics expert to install terminator style teachers called tactical education units. When the punk gangs running the school test these new teachers, they are met with violence, gunfire and all out warfare.
I was very excited to watch this once I learned Stacy Keach features as a mad albino scientist with a white mullet and pin-hole irises and has separate scenes where he eats a banana and drinks a glass of milk. You’ll be pleased to know all of that happens and it all delivers. The cast is pretty special; Malcom McDowell, Pam Grier, John Ryan and Patrick Kilpatrick all feature too. Unfortunately, McDowell, Grier and even Keach don’t really seem interested in putting any effort into their performances and drift through ineffectually. Ryan and Kilpatrick take the opposite approach, gleefully chewing the scenery in a way that’s perfectly in line with the plot. There is plenty of fun to be had once your brain is switched off, the last 30 mins in particular are a showcase for some awesome visual effect work from Eric Allard and Rick Stratton, including Pan Grier’s robot boob. Where the first movie thoughtfully pondered on the ethical solution to some societal problems before going full-on exploitation, ’84 is happy to skip the intelligent stuff and go straight into madness. Still a fun watch but lacks the punch and the humanity of the first.
Up next… 48 HRS (1982) from @hmvinstagram
BlurayBuddha’s Walter Hill project: 6 of 22
ONE COP ONE CON NO MERCY
Rewatch of Hill’s 6th full-length feature and the biggest, most profitable hit of his career once adjusted for inflation (the sequel ANOTHER 48 HRS achieved $2m more but was released 8 years later). I’ve seen this movie many times before, but probably not for 10 years, and had forgotten just how great it is; a movie that deserves its place in the history of great buddy-cop and San Francisco set pictures. Going in I had the incorrect perception that this was going to be the first film of the marathon that I didn’t think was great, I was convinced this was a safer “studio” movie that suffocated Hill’s trademark directorial touches. Wrong, wrong, wrong. The director’s voice and style are all over it and in many ways it set the standard and template for the great buddy cops movies of the 80s and 90s
Nick Nolte is Jack Cates, a tough, tired cop who survives a hotel lobby shoot-out that claims the lives of two of his policeman colleagues. To hunt down the murderer Nolte turns to prison inmate Reggie Hammond, played by breakout star Eddie Murphy. The pair have only 48 hrs to track down James Remar’s Ganz but will have to work out their differences with each other before they can finally defeat the bad guys
I think this may be the best encapsulation of what a Walter Hill film is. Overflowing with punching, cars, guns and machismo, it delivers them all with the intelligent, character-focussed writing that makes Hill’s films stand-out from the pack. 48 HRS also has the best Hill action scenes of the marathon so far. And on top of that, Hill adds a new comedic layer in the relationship between Murphy and Nolte. This is Murphy’s debut film role and would launch him as a major movie star, he went onto make TRADING PALCES and BEVERLY HILLS COP shortly after, and his performance is fun throughout. He bounces of Nolte (never better) perfectly and, even when the racially spicy dialogue feels a little dated, the two have excellent chemistry. Great to see Hill favourites James Remar and David Patrick Kelly get supporting roles too and Horner’s score is awesome
Up next… CLASS OF 1984 (1982) from @101.films
LOOK AT US. WE ARE THE FUTURE. YOU CAN’T STOP US. DON’T EVEN TRY
First time watch of Mark Lester’s mainstream breakthrough; the movie that afforded him the opportunity to take on classics such as FIRESTARTER and COMMANDO throughout the mid-80s. CLASS OF 1984 is a cult favourite that begins as a dystopian high school drama and ends up as a brutal exploitation rape-revenge movie. This is yet another movie that I must thank the beautiful boys at @purecinemapod
for turning me onto
It’s Perry King’s Mr Norris’s first day at an anarchic, violent inner-city school run by uber school bully Peter Stegman (Timothy Van Patten). Stegman’s gang are a group of far-right punks who’s only agenda appears to be total chaos at all costs. Mr Norris initially holds his own against the bullies, but ultimately even he has his breaking point and these kids are willing to cross the line to find it
First and foremost, this is a ton-of-fun movie you can put on at midnight after a few beers with friends and be confident you’re going to keep everyone happy for 98mins, and there’s a lot to be said for movies such as that. It’s a great credit to Lester and his cast that his punks manage to enrage us to the point that we cannot wait for Perry King to snap and cheer when he begins murdering the gang in bizarre and brutal ways. Also contains a classic scene of Roddy McDowall teaching a biology class at gunpoint! Lester and the cast have since stated in interviews that they had lots of societal issues front of mind when making the film, but overall it’s more successful in provoking discussion than it is at providing any argued solutions. It poses some fascinating moralquandaries, “How do you discipline unruly youth when they are hindering a larger, talented group”, but goes full exploitation rather than offering any hypothesis. But baby podgy Michael J. Fox, so…
I’ve said this before, but I really appreciate the effort that @101.films
are putting into their Black Label range. Their booklets in particular are the best in the business right now and CLASS OF 1984 is no different; it contains a top essay on punk culture from Scott Harrison
Up next… THE LONG RIDERS (1980) from @secondsightfilmsofficial
BlurayBuddha’s Walter Hill project: 4 of 22
ALL THE WORLD LIKES AN OUTLAW. FOR SOME DAMN REASON THEY REMEMBER ‘EM – JESSE JAMES
First time watch of Walter Hill’s 4th full length feature and his first in the western genre. It’s a Jesse James biopic focussed on the demise of the infamous James-Younger gang; a 19th century gang of Missourian outlaws who’s foundingmembers were two sets of brothers from the James and Younger clans. The gimmick of THE LONG RIDERS is that it uses sets of real-life siblings to portray the gang members – the Carradines (David, Keith and Robert), the Keachs (James and Stacy), the Quaids (Dennis and Randy) and the Guests (Christopher and Nicholas). The unique selling point appears to have worked, the film was successful at the box office and, although it didn’t make as much as THE WARRIORS, was certainly profitable enough to further enhance Hill’s growing reputation
James Keach’s Jesse James leads a gang of varying numbers in bank robberies and train heists throughout the state of Missouri. Mounting tensions with the Pinkerton Sheriff lead the gang to try an ambitious bank job in Minnesota which ultimately leads to the destruction of the unit and the death of most of its members. A sympathetic portrayal of the James-Younger gang; their exploits, their friendships and relationships, and the killings, friend and foe
A mixed bag overall but certainly an enjoyable watch. The violent, Peckinpah inspired action sequences are fantastic (horse through a window anyone?) and the ensemble cast mostly deliver. In particular David Carradine and Randy Quaid, who both use their limited screen time to maximum effect. The same cannot be said for James Keach however, who has no gravitas or charisma. Keach said he felt previous depictions of Jesse James were Hollywood glamorisations and that James was a moody, difficult man. Unfortunately, Keach’s performance is more grumpy teenager than legendary outlaw, while brother Stacy is criminally underutilised. The final 10 minutes feel very rushed and the Ford bros need an additional15mins of movie time to make the final assassination land
Up next… FIGHT CLUB (1999) – 9/10
HOW MUCH CAN YOU KNOW ABOUT YOURSELF IF YOU’VE NEVER BEEN IN A FIGHT?
Rewatching this in conjunction with the Filmspotting podcast and their 9 from ‘99 series where they celebrate the 20th anniversary of a standout year by revisiting 9 key films from 1999.FIGHT CLUB is a truly iconic movie which has, in the last several years, been misinterpreted as a celebration of toxic masculinity and misappropriated by frat radicals and film bros alike. Indeed, I was expecting to rewatch this in 2019 and find a problematic movie that doesn’t quite impress and enlighten as it did when I watched as a teenager. Well all of that is bullshit. This movie is awesome, acidly satirical with razor sharp wit and bursting with intelligent thought. I think sometimes people struggle to separate a film critiquing sexism, violence and terrorism with one that endorses those things. How can you criticise such things if you’re afraid to show them in your art?
Ed Norton is an unnamed, stuck-in-a-rut, insomniac insurance worker who turns to support groups for terminal illnesses to provide him the intimacy and emotion he’s missing from his daily life. When Helena Bonham Carter starts attending all the same sessions as Norton it affects his enjoyment and so he needs to find a new outlet. A chance encounter with Brad Pitt’s soap-selling Tyler Durden leads to the two founding an underground “fight club” where disenfranchised men can kick the crap out of each other as a form of messed up therapy.
Fincher leaves plenty of clues to the true message of his movie, most of all the ending where Norton kills Pitt (and perhaps himself?) to rid himself of Durden’s vitriol. How about Norton describing himself as a “30-year-old boy” or Norton telling Carter to get on the bus because “they think you’re some kind of threat”. Its ultimately the story of a bunch of disillusioned young men and the societal influences that get them to the point of joining a group like Project Mayhem. Fincher points the finger at consumerism and capitalism while saving his most pointed jabs for Norton and Pitt themselves. Somehow this film has gone from classic, to overlooked and underrated.
Up next… THE WARRIORS (1979) – 8/10
BlurayBuddha’s Walter Hill project: 3 of 22
THESE ARE THE ARMIES OF THE NIGHT. THEY ARE 60,000 STRONG. THEY OUTNUMBER THE COPS THREE TO ONE. THEY COULD RUN NEW YORK CITY. TONIGHT, THEY’RE ALL OUT TO GET THE WARRIORS
Rewatching as the third film in my mission to see all of Walter Hill’s filmography in chronological order and also to celebrate the films 40thanniversary. Probably Hill’s most well-known movie today and certainly his most commercially successful at this point in his career, THE WARRIORS set the foundations from which his subsequent run of awesome movies were built upon. Still rooted in simplistic plotting and direction, and still centred on the macho silent-type hero, Hill is able to unleash some of his creativity in concocting a stylised parallel universe New York city, part future part apocalyptic
Set in the not too distant future, New York is populated with many gangs each with their own defining gimmick, usually related to either a costume or weapon choice. There’s The Orphans, The Baseball Furies, The Lizzies, The Punks and hundreds more. Then there’s The Warriors, a Coney Island based gang who wear nifty brown leather waistcoats and have an American Indian inspired theme. Influential gang leader Cyrus calls a one-night truce among the gangs to unify them against the city’s police force but is shot and killed in an act that is wrongly attributed to The Warriors. Can the gang get back home with the whole city out to find them? Can you dig it?
Endlessly quotable and highly influential, it’s still so much fun to go back and watch THE WARRIORS. It’s such a simple accessible premise. Sure there is some bad out-there acting on display and it’s pretty universal throughout the cast, but David Patrick Kelly as Luther and Roger Hill as Cyrus add moments of wacky genius to their short moments on screen. My favourite moment in the whole film is when one of Luther’s henchman asks him, in the heat of the mayhem, “How come you’re so happy about this?” and Luther replies “I’m having a good time”. Haha. That simplicity of motivation is classic Walter Hill and it makes THE WARRIORS such an uncomplicated piece of movie fun.
Up next… HEREDITARY (2018) from #entertainmentinvideo
EVERY FAMILY TREE HIDES A SECRET
Second time watch after catching a glorious @cineworld
screening upon its release last year, and I’m watching in anticipation of director Ari Aster’s follow-up MIDSOMMAR hitting theatres this weekend. It’s probably the film I’m looking forward to most this year, mainly because HEREDITARY ended up with the prestigious honour of being my favourite movie of 2018. It’s one of those movies that sticks with you and, in a picture filled with haunting imagery, a certain scene still has me checking the corners of ceilings to this very day.
When Annie’s (Toni Collette) mother passes away her relationship with her family starts to unravel. Daughter Charlie (Milly Shapiro) is reclusive and collects the heads of dead birds to enhance her litter-based sculptures, son Peter (Alex Wolff) is an emotional pot-smoke teenager trying to muddle through high-school and husband Steve (Gabriel Byrne) is an obviously ineffectual passive influence on the three. The death of Grandma brings some dark family secrets to the surface and a history of mental illness, tragedy and cultism collide in a terrifying supernatural family drama.
Re-watching this was a great experience because my memory of it was understandably dominated by all the mad shit that ends up happening, especially in the final act. This is a very well written and carefully acted melodrama that just happens to be laced with high octane genre touches, and the two worlds compliment each other really well. It does both while also managing to be very scary throughout, but Aster isn’t happy to rely on jump scares and loud noises – the innovation and creativity of the creepiness means it sticks with you long after the credits. The camerawork from Aster and director of photography Pawel Pogorzelski is very unique too, with Collette describing the process as “the camera Olympics” and there are many scenes where the camera swings across the house with the action, often at 90-degree angles or upside down. Performances are great throughout – Collette is obviously excellent but special mention to Ann Dowd, the scariest kind person in the world.
Up next… JOHN WICK (2014) 6/10 and JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 (2017) – 6.5/10
I ONCE SAW HIM KILL THREE MEN IN A BAR WITH A PENCIL… A FUCKING PENCIL!
Re-watch and first time watch respectively and watching just in time to still catch Chapter 3 in the cinema. It’s a special BlurayBuddha bonus review today as I try and cover two films in the same character limit, of which I’ve already used 355 characters, well now 398… JOHN WICK became an overnight sensation upon its release in 2014, with film enthusiasts like yourselves feeling like they finally got an action film that gave them everything they were looking for. Simplistic storytelling, slick stylish action, playful scripting and above all else the breath-taking (you’re welcome reddit) Keanu Reeves.
John Wick is a recently widowed, animal-loving automotive nut with a set of deadly skills, some of which are pencil based. He is forced back into the underground world of hit-people after his favourite puppy / mustang combo are all messed up by some nasty Russian bastards. Wick quickly proves himself as “nothing to f with” as his clinical combat style and direct approach racks up a hefty body count. In Chapter 2 Wick faces a different threat, this time from the network of assassins that help protect him in Chapter 1. Although I enjoyed both movies, both tend to drag slightly after exciting opening hours. The second does a better job of keeping my interest and I really like that extra world-building that goes on around the Continental hotel and the various rules of thatorganisation.
Idea for John Wick: Chapter 4, it’s somewhat of a prequel - We flash back to the period just after John’s wife died but just before his car is stolen. Specifically, the 48ish hours where he receives his new puppy. The film focuses on these hours and we see Keanu and pooch playing fetch, pooch having an accident and Keanu cleaning up, pooch running into the patio doors because he doesn’t understand they are glass and finally pooch waking Keanu up with licks to the face. Essentially take the 2 minutes from the first film that teases us with some of the above and turn it into a 120 minute feature, ideally directed by Steven Spielberg.