Reaper Rick is an avid movie lover who has never quite gotten over the terror he experienced as a young child when he watched his first horror movie on the big screen back before most of you were even born. He really enjoys good movies and really hates bad ones.
Moviegoer Grim has been told he watches too many movies and if he invested the money he spends at his local theater Grim would own his own by now.
Welcome back, dear readers, from your enforced summer break. That is, of course, a break from The World of Myth. It’s Reaper Rick back at you this issue, and in 1997, a movie was released which takes us back to the seedy and sleazy world of the 1950s in Los Angeles, California. Specifically, the movie “L.A. Confidential” looks at how corrupt the Los Angeles Police Department was at that time. It starred Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, James Cromwell, Kim Basinger, and Danny DeVito.
In this gritty film we follow a fresh young police lieutenant (Guy Pearce) as he attempts to ‘do the right thing’ in a department which is run like an old boys club, where most of the cops are on the take and they all protect each other. When a series of seemingly random murders (at first pinned on a trio of black men) turn out to be related, two detectives (Spacey and Crowe)—both of whom have their own problems with the department—reluctantly join forces with Pearce to find the truth and weed out the corrupt cops. More murders are uncovered, which turn out to be drug related, and when the true culprits are found out, none of the cops are prepared for what they eventually discover.
That is a very simplified and limited plot synopsis, but there are countless twists and turns in this movie, which also involves racial bigotry, high-class call girls, drugs, and a literally killer shootout at the end of the movie. Danny DeVito plays a sleazy reporter who pays cops for scoops and info on upcoming criminal busts, Cromwell is the older and wiser police captain, and Basinger plays one of the call girls who are surgically made up to look like movie stars.
All in all, this is a great look at what life was like for cops and people of L.A. in the 1950s, and the art and scenic direction is right on—this one really took me back. “L.A. Confidential” is a rowdy, dirty look at the underbelly of police tactics in that era, and I give this movie Four Full Stars of Pleasure . Check it out, if you haven’t already.
During the 1950s and 60s, the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union was in full swing, and most people realized that at any minute a nuclear bomb could have wiped us out. Not many today know that during that decade the U.S. had hundreds of B-29s in the air 24 hours a day, and each plane carried a pair of Atomic Bombs. Each of these planes flew a regular and predetermined route which placed them only 200 miles from important targets within the Soviet Union. In the event of a nuclear attack on the United States, these planes were under orders to fly to their targets within Russia and drop those bombs.
Needless to say, with all of those Atomic Bombs floating around the world at that time, many people were concerned there might be an accidental bomb drop or even worse, that some insane nut-job might launch an unprovoked attack on one or the other country, merely to justify their own mindless fears. The latter scenario is the subject of a dark comedy movie released in 1964, called “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.”
Nominated for Four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor, it was directed by Stanley Kubrick (A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey). The screenplay was written by Kubrick and Terry Southern (who also wrote the screenplays for “Barbarella,” “Easy Rider,” and “The Loved One”), and it starred Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, Keenan Wynn, Slim Pickens, and James Earl Jones.
Imagine a B-29 Squadron Leader who controls 27 of these always aloft, fully loaded bombers, who loses his mind and sends all those planes an attack code to drop their bombs on the U.S.S.R. That is the plot of “Dr. Strangelove.” And while that may not seem a very humorous story-line, the frantic actions of the President and his war council as they try to convince a drunken Soviet leader it was all a silly mistake is actually hilarious. Peter Sellers plays three roles in this movie—the U.S. President, Dr. Strangelove, and Captain Mandrake, a British aide to the General who sends the B-29s on their bomb run over Russia.
While the President (Sellers) is trying to stop the Russian Leader from preparing a counter-attack on the U.S. with a secret Doomsday Device the Soviets have recently developed, Mandrake (also Sellers) has to deal with an insane General (Sterling Hayden), as well as try to discover the recall code that will bring all the planes back before they drop their bombs. Enter Dr. Strangelove (again, Sellers), a crippled ex-Nazi physicist, who attempts to explain to the President and his war council how the Soviet doomsday device will destroy all life on Earth.
While today this movie may seem a bit over-blown and perhaps even over-reactive, at the time it was released “Dr. Strangelove” was both a laugh-out-loud comedy, and at the same time so terrifying many people cried when they realized how close we actually were to utter annihilation.
We can afford to laugh at it now, but for a great period-movie with a great cast, I have to give “Dr. Strangelove” Four and a Half Stars of pure, hysterical pleasure .
So, now, riddle me this my faithful droogs—what do you call a citrus timepiece? All right, so it’s not a riddle, it’s just a question. Besides, I gave you a big hint there. A citrus timepiece is, of course, a Clockwork Orange. Most have heard of this movie, but since it is rarely presented on television (except perhaps on HBO or Showtime), some may not have seen the classic film.
Released in 1971, “A Clockwork Orange” was directed by Stanley Kubrick (Full Metal Jacket, The Shining), and was based on the book by Anthony Burgess. Set in an undisclosed future which takes place in the U.K., the story follows a young man named Alex (Malcolm McDowell), and his small gang of droogs. Any who have seen this movie will notice the gang has their own slang to describe many everyday things they come in contact with. If you read the book, there is a very helpful Glossary at the back which translates these words back into English. Not so with the movie, but you can generally figure out what they are talking about.
Alex and his gang spent their nights beating derelicts, fighting other gangs, breaking into homes to beat and rob the owners, stealing cars, and enjoying the old ‘in-out, in-out.’ Along with his love of ‘horror-show’ violence, Alex also loved music, especially that of the master composer, Beethoven. Yet even with all of his good qualities, Alex was a rather overbearing leader, and eventually his droogs decide to get rid of him. They set him up for arrest by the coppers after Alex inadvertently kills a woman whose house he broke into.
Convicted of the killing and sent to prison, Alex spends a few years behind bars before he hears about a new treatment that is supposed to cure prisoners like him of all their violent tendencies. He jumps at this chance for freedom—since if he is cured he will be released—and undergoes what can only be described as aversion therapy brainwashing. This therapy consisted of daily injections and then hours of movie watching, where Alex is forced to view films of sexual assault, violent beatings, and scenes of Nazi war atrocities. Accidentally, during the Nazi sections, the background music happens to be Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, one of Alex’s favorite music pieces. While he views all of these horrific scenes, Alex becomes violently sick and feels as if he is going to die, so eventually he associates all acts of violence with sickness and his own death. Cute, eh?
On a side note, author Anthony Burgess wrote his book after WW II (it was published in 1962), and one incident in the book may have been inspired by what happened to his wife during the London blackout. Her home was broken into; she was robbed, beaten and assaulted by several U.S. Army deserters. The war may have also influenced the aversion treatment Alex was subjected to, as one female doctor rather looked and acted like a Nazi, while another doctor appeared to be Russian.
After his successful treatment, Alex is released from prison and sent home, but not everything is the same as when he left a few years ago. I don’t want to spoil the movie for those who have not seen it yet, but at this point the film is only half finished, and you will have to rent a copy to find out what happens to poor Alex. Better yet, read the book and then see the movie. Either way, “A Clockwork Orange” is a classic film of utter brutality and government intervention, and must be seen to be fully appreciated, so I give it Four and a Half Stars of pure horror-show pleasure .
And that will do it for this issue, dear fans. See you next time.
Hey wait! What about me, I wanted to pop a few brand new movies at you all for your possible viewing pleasure. Okay, let’s cut to the chase—the boss is already telling me to hurry this up and I just got started! Sheeesh!
Okay, the first movie we’re going to take a look at is the third and final installment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy called “Dark Knight Rises.” Despite Batman’s tarnished reputation after the events which transpired in “The Dark Knight,” in which he took the blame for Harvey Dent’s crimes, Batman feels compelled to intervene to assist the city and its police force which is struggling to cope with Bane’s plans to destroy the city.
Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine all return to their roles in the previously two films. This movie is much darker than the others and I think has a very human sub-story to it. It was a fantastic flick, and I was glued to my seat for the entire length of the film (which by the way was 165 minutes). But, I would have to say the real star of the film was not Batman, or Gordon, or even Bane—the star in my opinion was Alfred Pennyworth (played by Michael Caine). Caine brought his “A” game to the table with this one and took the film’s emotion up a level or two. So, for “The Dark Knight Rises,” I award it four and a half out of five stars!
An—what? I’m hurrying already! I get I’m running out of space, bu—all right, I’ll hurry up.
As I was say, the film I want to take a look at is the remake of the Spider-man story, called “Amazing Spider-man.” Like most teenagers, Peter is trying to figure out who he is and how he got to be the person he is today. Peter is also finding his way with his first high school crush, Gwen Stacy, and together they struggle with love, commitment, and secrets. As Peter discovers a mysterious briefcase that belonged to his father, he begins a quest to understand his parents’ disappearance – leading him directly to Oscorp and the lab of Dr Curt Connors, his father’s former partner. As Spider-Man is set on a collision course with Connors’ alter-ego, The Lizard, Peter will make life-altering choices to use his powers and shape his destiny to become a hero.
This was a remake definitely aimed toward today’s tween audience. Throughout the movie, every time Peter walked out into the sunlight, I expected him to sparkle. Andrew Garfield’s rendition of Peter Parker was off, while they tried to say he was a science nerd, his look said, “No I’m sooo cool, boys and girls.” The character had a very Edward Cullins feel to him, the pale, skinny, loner with the fohawk hairdo.
Again, everything appeared to be off. Sally Fields as
Aunt May (Makes buzz sound) Ahnt! Wrong! Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben, really? I was waiting for him to say he was heading down to Wall Street. And Denis Leary as Captain Stacy—what in the name of God were the casting agents thinking? You know Leary wanted to drop the “F” bomb in every scene, but was prohibited because it was a tween flick, boys and girls.
Sigh… I thought Emma Stone’s performance was solid (pun intended), but I just couldn’t connect with the movie. Maybe I’m getting too old, who knows… Anywho, for “The Amazing Spider-tween… I mean Spider-man” I give it two out of five stars .
Okay, there I’m done, and I didn’t even go over my page limit.