Greetings everyone and Welcome once again to the new World of Myth Movie Reviews with Reaper Rick. Yep, The World of Myth is back and so is Rick—all’s right with the world again.
All right, let’s get to this, ‘cause I have a lot of ground to cover. First, we all know that “Avatar” got ripped off in the Best Picture category at the Oscars. Okay, I knew it really didn’t have much of a chance to win Best Picture, but it should have. Being a science fiction flick as well as a fantasy, it stood little chance, however I feel it didn’t win because it was so extraordinary that few of the voters even knew how to judge it. I don’t know, but maybe since it is the highest money grossing picture Ever should have given them a clue. It was a picture ahead of its time and so didn’t really fit into any Oscar category, but movie goers proved it was the Best Picture out there.
I give “Avatar” Four and a Half great big Howls of Pleasure and that only because I didn’t feel the acting rated five howls. Even Sigourney Weaver seemed a bit stilted to me, in both of her roles, but the movie is still amazing and should be seen by everyone, as many times as possible.
So, everybody loves Zombies, right? Well, I’m afraid that not everybody loved “Zombieland.” It did have some funny sections, but unfortunately there weren’t enough funny scenes to save this flick. Plus, the zombies were runners, not ‘Zombie Walkers,’ which always makes for a ‘Bad’ zombie movie, at least as far as true zombie lovers are concerned.
Woody Harrelson (who I still always see as the dim-witted bartender in “Cheers”) played his stereotypical hard-ass gun-toting character who loves to kill zombies, and in his spare time he is also seeking the world’s last Twinkie. The love story between Jesse Eisenberg and a young female con-artist slowed the movie down, and while humorous in places, it took up too much time in the movie. One bright spot in this flick was the appearance of Bill Murray as himself, but his scenes were limited and could not save the picture.
All in all I give “Zombieland” Three Howls of Pleasure for humor and gore spillage , and I feel that is being somewhat generous. It is funny in some places, but just not funny enough.
And now for something completely different. Since I spend more time watching older—and sometimes rather obscure—movies than new ones, I want to cover some flicks that may have been missed by a lot of viewers.
First up is a movie I believe few people have even heard of. “Barton Fink” is from 1991, was directed by Joel Coen and written by the brothers Coen, Joel and Ethan. This sleeper stars John Turturro, John Goodman, Tony Shalhoub (Monk) and Judy Davis.
The movie takes place in 1941, where Barton Fink (Turturro) is an intellectual New York playwright, whose agent convinces him to travel to California and write for the movies. Hired by Capitol Pictures, his first job is to write a Wallace Berry wrestling script, and he is put up in an eerie old hotel, filled with strange occupants. One of these hotel dwellers is a salesman named Charlie Meadows (Goodman), who is living in the room next to Fink.
Used to writing ‘high brow’ intellectual plays that make the audience really think, Fink immediately develops writers block as he tries to write a ‘low-brow’ comedy and stays locked up in his hotel room for days, trying to find his muse. He meets Charlie, who Fink feels is the epitome of the ‘common man,’ and Charlie thus becomes a model for his movie script. But strange things are happening within the hotel. One night Fink sleeps with a woman and awakes to find her slaughtered in his bed. He gets Charlie to help him dispose of the body, but then his friend has something to hang over his head.
The story becomes a comedy of errors when the studio hates Fink’s script—they wanted something lightly humorous and Fink has given them an intellectual Oscar nominee. Then the cops show up looking for the dead girl and tell Fink that his friend Charlie is a serial killer, who has disappeared. The climax of this movie is both surprising and terrifying, and yet you still find yourself laughing at the absurd situation.
“Barton Fink” rates Three and a Half Howls of Pleasure and is a must see for the serious devotee of suspense and comical horror. Rent it once just to experience this weird expression of bittersweet comedy and thrilling suspense (it was also nominated for three Oscars).
For all of those readers/viewers out there who like a bit of twisted ‘Kink’ in their movies, you might consider picking up Al Pacino in “Cruising.” Written and directed by William Friedkin (The French Connection/The Exorcist), this 1980 film is largely unknown by most movie goers, probably because of its peculiar sexual content.
Pacino plays a rookie cop, Steve Burns, who is given an assignment to go undercover in search of a savage killer of gay men. He is given this job since he resembles the victims, and his boss Paul Sovino hopes Burns will draw the killer out of hiding. The setting for this movie is the seedy and dangerous underground world of gay leather bars and bondage S/M trade.
With no foreknowledge of gay society, Pacino moves into a gay neighborhood and is befriended by his next door neighbor, who basically helps him become ‘more’ gay. As we watch Pacino stumble through many gay leather bars, the viewer cannot help but laugh as he forges his butch appearance and persona. He dons a heavy leather motorcycle jacket and visor cap, and with the wrong colored handkerchief hanging from the back pocket of his tight jeans, he cruises through bars and the park at night, looking for a killer.
Pacino is undercover for a long time since the killer is highly elusive, and as the weeks pass we watch as he begins to question his own sexuality. He is married (to Karen Allen) but is unable to see her during this operation or tell her what he is investigating, and has no contact with anyone (outside the gay community) except Sorvino. Even Pacino realizes that he may be slipping toward playing for the other team, as it were, and asks to be taken off the case, but Sorvino insists he continue undercover until the killer is found.
Some scenes in a few of the bars are Very explicit—if you ever wanted to know what happened in gay bars back in the 70s and 80s (before the AIDS scare closed many of these places down), this is a movie you should see. If you are a homophobe, go rent “Scent of a Woman” instead.
“Cruising” earns Four Howls of Pleasure for intense drama , seriously great acting and wild sexual scenes. Pacino really does get ‘into’ this role and if you are a fan of his, this is a role you have never seen him play before. Go Get It!
On a lighter note is a flick I watch every time it comes on one of the Movie Channels. From a British Cult Comic comes the 1995 movie, “Tank Girl.” This is a hilarious post-apocalyptic flick set in the year 2033, and our anti-heroine Tank Girl is battling a mega corporation which controls the world’s water supply, and only doles out the precious liquid to those who can afford it.
Lori Petty is Tank Girl, and the movie also stars Ice-T, Naomi Watts and Malcolm McDowell (from among other movies, “A Clockwork Orange”). Petty is a cigar-smoking punk-type girl (fashion style punk) who really has a working Tank to play with, and she uses it (along with some friends—among which are some hybrid kangaroo/men developed by the Army, and Watts as Jet Girl) to take down McDowell and his conglomerate.
Without getting into the story over much, let me just say that this is a great popcorn flick and should be viewed with an open mind, and with plenty of laughter to spare. I give “Tank Girl” Three and a Half Howls of Pleasure for supplying the viewer with humor, mild sexual content, and a great way to spend about 90 minutes. Check it out.
And that’s about it for me this month. I’ll be back next time with some new—and old—reviews for ya. “Avatar” is coming out on DVD soon—so go out and get yerself a copy. I also hear Cameron is thinking about making a sequel. That would be overly excellent!