The term “underrated” has been thrown around for years. When it comes to movies there are many different versions of what that could mean. For myself as I sit in my shop looking at all the titles that sit on my shelf I think of it simply as films you bring up in conversation and a person will respond with “I totally forgot about that movie!” or “What was that film with so and so in it again? Loved it when I was younger.” Nothing makes me happier then a customer walking into the shop and I happen to be watching a 10, 20, or 30 year old movie and they look over at the TV and their eyes light up saying “Holy shit man, is this blah, blah, blah?”. Ofcourse I respond with “You damn right it’s blah, blah, blah!”. After which we get excited talking about the first time we saw it. Or the ultimate is is seeing someone just stare at the screen for a few minutes hooked on what they are looking at and finally go “Kev, what is this?”. Well my friends, when that happens I get fired up. I basically pop out the disc, put it in a case, and tell them “You watching this tonight”. “Underrated” to me means “Forgotten”. Not by serious movie nerds but maybe even forgotten until it’s brought up in talk. Anyways, enough of my blabbing. Here are a few films I wanted to talk about that are UNDERRATED.
Back in 1997 when I worked at a “real” videostore I had the pleasure of seeing the advanced screening of this beauty with some buddies. Not to get sidetracked but back in the 90s when new posters and VHS tapes were sent to the shop sometimes we would be lucky enough to get passes from the companies to check out their latest flicks in the theaters. Well thanks to ARTISAN PICTURES we got those very passes. Looking it them it was a no brainer to go check it out because of one man…CHRISTOPHER WALKEN. Now looking back it now the entire ensemble cast itself was something to be excited about.
When you have a group of Ivy League college guys played by Jay Mohr, Henry Thomas, Jeremy Sisto, Sean Patrick Flanery, and the hilarious Johnny Galecki who kidnap may or may not be retired crime boss Walken who they need to help find the kidnapped girlfriend of Flanery’s character watching them all interact is a blast. The work that these guys went on to in years to come speaks for itself. Talent was oozing in this film. Maybe it was able to happen because they were not all known at the time and could be affordable or possibly it was the 90s. I say that because we were still riding high off the Pulp Fiction model in make a low budget cool flick and known actors will take scale pay to be a part of it.
So the guys are hoping Charlie (Walken) can use his past connections to help track down who kidnapped Flanery’s girlfriend and also the sister of Henery Thomas’ Avery character. In the end it becomes obvious that even though Charlie is trying to be a respectable businessman these days no one is truly ever out of the underworld. Case in point calling his good friend Lono Veccio to help out figuring this mystery. Denis Leary almost steals the entire film with every scene he appears in. Whether it’s arguing and explaining to his “co-worker” why a pair of stingray boots cost 1500 dollars or seeing him beating a piece of shit human with a toaster after giving a heart felt speech about domestic abuse. I literally could have watched an entire movie with just the character of Lono throwing money at homeless people telling them they have 24 hours to clean up their lives or he would come back and kill them.
Now the young lads know they are in deep because not only did they kidnap Charlie Barret but they cut off his finger because that’s what the kidnappers did to the abducted lady. The poor innocent of the group is Ira Reder played perfectly by Johnny Galecki. I grew up with him on ROSEANNE as the nerdy boyfriend of Darlene but most people would know him from BIG BANG THEORY. Honestly that show has never been my cup of tea but that’s a conversation for a different time. So poor Ira just thought the boys were coming over for a simple poker night with beers. What he walks into is a drugged up, finger missing, and angry mobster taken by his buddies and tied to a chair in his place. He knows exactly who Walken is and tries his best the rest of the film to separate his status from the rest of the crew. Their scenes together are quite enjoyable.
As the mystery unfolds and the group begin to question if their plan might work the the former crime boss takes over and even while tied up in a chair and losing blood from his missing finger the mind of Charlie starts digging in deep and playing mental games with the group. Charlie soon is able to make them question and at times turn on each other by planting the idea that this whole kidnapping of Flanery’s girlfriend is an inside job and someone in that very room is behind it. Shit begins to get tense as they all start calling each other out on who and why would have the most motive. For a role that forces an actor simple to be tied in chair for 90 percent of the film it truly shows how captivating Christopher Walken is as an actor. He is simply amazing to watch in this film and it’s a shame when we talk of his career this movie is rarely brought up if ever. A lesser actor in the role and yes, this film might have been completely forgotten in the used DVD bins in the late 90s. But with Walken forget about it. Simply fantastic.
In the end when all is said and done in this clever little film it deals with betrayal, loyalty, and greed but maybe not from the characters you think. In the end when the movie came to it’s conclusion it was an overall satisfying feeling that came over us in the theatre that evening.
And speaking of conclusions while the ending of the film was the right choice on the DVD there are actually not one but two different finishes. I think in fitting with the character of Walken’s Charlie they went with the right one but the alternatives were interesting in their own right. Infact I feel now all these later maybe they should have went with one of the other endings. No spoilers on that here. Just watch the movie, check out the other endings and we’ll talk about it at the videostore.
Now here in Edmonton I iused to frequent the indie theatre known as The Princess quite a lot in the late 90s/ early 2000s to see smaller films that never quite made the cut to play in your local cineplex locations but in 2002 I was quite dumbfounded why I was sitting in an arthouse movie theatre getting ready to watch a film starring Val Kilmer. After seeing THE SALTON SEA I was even more confused. This movie needed to be seen by a larger crowd. This movie deserved to be playing along bigger studie mystery crime films to find an audience. And yet this was not the case. I loved the fact I went into this film completely blind. All we knew about it at the time was it’s about tweekers, speed freaks. Okay, so it’s gonna be an american Trainspotting? At times I thought that was the case but the layers this movie had going for it were unexpected and very intriguing and it became something totally different.
Playing a saxophone in a burning building we meet Danny Parker or atleast we think we meet Danny Parker. He’s not sure who he is these days. We are told the story of Danny and his group of fellow speed freaks he spends his days with. Not knowing when is where and always looking for another way to score. His closest friend in the circle of misfits is Jimmy The Finn played endearingly by the talented Peter Sarsgaard. Early in the movie, the Trainspotting vibe, we see them end up in a sticky situation with a dealer named Bobby who is beyond out his mind, holding a harpoon gun, and has his girlfriend pinned below his bed mattress. The scene plays out with as much uncomfortable tension as it does dark humour. Big props to Glenn Plummer in this moment for his acting as the whacked out Bobby.
After this we soon learn that Danny Parker is actually working with some cops as a snitch to help them get the drop on these drug dealers. Two shady as fuck cops to be precise. Seems Danny got in trouble with the law earlier and will do whatever it takes to stay out of jail and give up everyone and anyone in the drug world to help his cause. But is that what is really going on here? Things get more bizarre when Danny sees that the dealer he tipped them off about has ended up dead and all his stash is gone from the place he lived. Hmm…interesting.
Honestly it would be a crime to give more away about the specific details of where the story goes from this point on but needless to say nothing is as it seems. And as we continue the journey to get to bottom of it all everything has to eventually make it’s way back to the actual title of the movie itself…The Salton Sea. Something happened there. Something that changed Danny Parker forever.
Two of the biggest highlights of this film are as follows. All the actors do a great job but it is one Vincent D’Onofrio as the Methhead King dealer Pooh-Bear that steals it completely. Another target for Danny to tip off the cops he must first gain Pooh-Bear’s trust which is no easy task when talking with a man who has done so much crank that his nose literally melted away forcing him to wear a plastic one instead which gives him one disturbing and weezing voice. When they meet Pooh-Bear is busy reinacting the assassination of JFK with pigeons. Seriously, whoever wrote this scene gets an A+ for “you don’t see that every day”.
The other insane part that stands out is a plan hatched by Danny’s fellow speed freak buddies on how to make some extra cash. Led by Kujo who is played by the always reliable Adam Goldberg the group plan on breaking into a medical lab and steal Bob Hope’s shit to sell on EBay to the highest bidder. Yes, his shit. Absolutely crazy and to see how the plan might or does play out is simply funny as hell which is nice break from the overall tension that is being set up the rest of the movie.
It’s damn shame this movie still has not even gotten a Blu Ray release but almost 20 years later this crime/ mystery/ drug movie is an entertaining ride that I feel more people are discovering and when great movies with Val Kilmer are brought up over a drink it is starting to be noticed as part of that group.
At the time of it’s release THINGS TO DO IN DENVER was unfortunately lumped in as just another Pulp Fiction ripoff and wanna-be. To this critics all I have to say is no one likes you or your shitty vibes. To have assembled this cast together should have given it more credit right from the start.
Jimmy The Saint play by Andy Garcia is a reformed man. A man who used to be involved with the underworld but has turned legit with a business to help the dead still be able to talk and leave life advice to their loved ones through video. Sadly his old world comes calling him back in the form of The Man With The Plan played deviously as always by Christopher Walken. The Man needs Jimmy and his old crew to pull off a simple task of roughing up a guy. Nothing more, just rough him up and make him change his mind on a thing. Easy enough. What could go wrong?
When your crew is Treat Williams, Bill Nunn, Billy Forsythe, and Christopher Lloyd you would think everything is under control. Sadly this “job” turns wrong real quick, certain people are killed, and The Man With The Plan is not happy. Infact the guys know exactly what the verdict will be once he finds out what happend.
Not only are they all given death sentences but in the most brutal way possible. When I was watching this film and I heard the term “Buckwheats” I had no idea what the hell that meant. After it is explained to you everyone in that theatre had their asses tighen up below them. Yup, not pretty. So all are expected to die except for Jimmy. You see The Man still has a soft spot for him so he gives Jimmy 48 hours to leave Denver and never come back or he will be served the extreme punishment. Jimmy feels he has to help his boys since he got them into this mess and simply can not abandon them. Also he met a lovely lady and his entire life’s work is here in Denver. Well Jimmy, one reason to maybe get the hell out of dodge is because of the man coming to do the ugly work. Steve Buscemi is one of my all time favourite actors and most of his beloved roles involve him talking…a lot. Well here he shows up as the most lethal contract killer who goes by the name Mister Shhh. In the entire film he utters zero lines. And given his slim figure it is shocking how you truly believe this guy could give John Wick a run for his money. Having Buscemi in the film might have added to the Taratino comparison. Either way between his cold and calculated presence and Andy Garcia’s cool and badass vibes the characters are all compelling. With each having their own quirks the man that is able to chew up the scenes the most with his screen time is Treat Williams as Critical Bill. The character is amazing.
Critical Bill gets most of the blame why things went wrong and for good reason. The man is insane. He works at a Funeral Home and to stay in shape he hangs the recently deceased on chains and uses them as a boxing bag when he’s taking a lunch break. Add to that when everyone is trying run from certain doom Bill is the only one ready for Mister Shhh with his entire apartment booby trapped, jugs of piss, and full crazed camoflage outfit ready to fire off that shotgun at a drop. Treat Williams has always been underrated in my opinion so makes it perfect that he ends up in this film.
Look, would this movie have been greenlit if not for Pulp Fiction? Maybe. Maybe not. Does it deserve to be called a wannabe QT movie? Absolutely not. It has a style, feel, and sound of it’s own and should be looked at that way. It’s own thing. In the end the events of the movie that go down are not completely surprising but done with enough umph that it works quite well. I especially enjoy the final scene. All I can say is “They Got Their Boat Drinks”. If you have seen the movie you know what I mean. Moving on…
Director Joe Lynch some would say is best known for his horror or horror/cemdy styles. With titles like Wrong Turn 2, Chillerama, Holliston, and Knights Of Badassdom seeing him take the helm of a balls out crazed gun-shotting, one woman survival, Christmas eve bloodfest action movie might be a surprise. Add to that it is the always lovely Salma Hayak in the lead role and 2014’s EVERLY is another film that never gets talked about enough and there for underrated.
The plot is simple enough. On Christmas Eve we meet Everly who has badly been abused by some yakuza gang members and is recovering her senses in the bathroom. She ends up pulling a gun and taking them all out while being shot herself. You see she figured it was her or them at this point. Everly’s ex-boyfriend is the yakuza boss and not only was she leaving him but she was working with the cops to take him down so she could be with her daughter again and not be used as a crime boss’ piece of meat. But there is problem. Her ex knows all and there is no way he is letting her get out of that apartment on this night in one piece. And let the fireworks begin…
From this point on Lynch throws Everly through the ringer and seeing Salma Hayek get to play a John McClain/John Wick of sorts is amazing. Her former friends are storming the room with blades, guns, and anything else they can get their hands on to take her out. Seems her ex has put a big chunck of money on this getting done. Adding some fun entertaining moments in the film is a yakuza member from the opening shootout that is still alive but can only sit on the couch as he slowly bleeds out. He becomes an odd bonding character to Everly. Add to this her mother and daughter getting involved and things get more bizarre and intense.
I have to give so much credit to Lynch for keeping this entire film in basically one location. For a heavy drama or mystery movie with lots of dialogue no biggie but for a crazed shoot em up flick it’s impressive. Also never letting go of his horror film influences I almost sensed a serious nod to Japanese legend Takashi Miike with the introduction of the bizarre and twisted killers The Sadist and The Masochist. Worth the watch just for them.
If you like your action. If you like your over the top gun blasting gore. If you like to see Salma Heyak kicking ass. And if you are just looking for that one Rated R, shut your brain off and enjoy the violence Christmas movie that you have not seen give EVERLY a spin. You won’t be bored I promise.
Some movies you watch and are torn on because even though you are enjoying it you have seen the plot before and nothing is quite that original but yet it’s still taking these movie tropes we have seen many times and entertaining us somehow. When it comes to Truth Or Consequences I’ll give the director the credit and that director is none other than Kiefer Sutherland himself.
So plotwise fresh out of jail Raymond wants to pull of a drug robbery with his insane crime buddy Curtis, girlfriend Addy, and his other buddy Marcus. Well for the four of them it should be a breeze and quick way to score some fast money before moving on in life. Well things go to complete shit 20 minutes into the movie and needless to say they are on the run from all sides of the law.
On the run they all realize they need a new vehicle and end up taking a couple and their RV hostage to keep them on the road where they hope to make a deal with the drugs they got with a Mafia boss to salvage somethng from the opening crime gone wrong. Turns out the husband of the couple they take hostage (Kevin Pollack) is really digging what these guys are doing and wants to join in and be a badass with him. He has a lot of aggression apparently.
Things go from bad and to complete shit when it turns out the mafia boss they wanted to deal with is actually the man they stole from in the first place. Whoops. Back on the run with a showdown coming no matter what that will end up in, you guessed it, Truth Or Consequences N.M. Overall I was quite entertained with the movie in 1997 and recently watched it again thinking it still holds up. While no masterpiece it is a movie that more people might wanna check out just to see Keifer Sutherland play a complete psychopath. His character has a fun little habit of spinning a coin in the movie. He explains if you spin a coin on it’s side and if it ever stops in that position you will be able to “see into the future”. Well, the entire movie he is spinning this damn thing and we are waiting for the moment. Well, I’ll just leave it at that.
I also have to mention that we get a great little cameo by Martin Sheen who simply plays a character named “Sir”. Let’s just say he is in the business of torture and getting answers and his methods are fucking nasty. It’s fun to see an actor like Sheen in something like this. And ofcourse as mentioned earlier give it a watch to see how David The Lost Boy is as a director. I think he did a pretty good job.
Look, I’m not gonna lie. I have not seen Eli Roth’s Death Wish remake with Bruce Willis from a few years ago. I’m sure it’s fine film and all but I never had the desire to watch for many reasons but one that stood out to me was 2007’s DEATH SENTENCE directed by James Wan. Why? Because this movie is basically that. A remake of the original Chuck Bronson flick in the best way possible. Now don’t get me wrong, I love the sequels by Cannon Films for how over the top and insane they became but at it’s heart Death Wish is a vigilante film about a man pushed to the limits where no one really feels like they won at the end. Death Sentence captures that feeling of loss, anger, hatred, and real brutality better than most.
When the movie opened in late summer of 2007 it came and left theatres rather quickly. Like I swear no one I knew saw it. No one. Ofcourse it came to my shop and I had to check it out. A big plus for me was it starred Kevin Bacon as the lead Nick Hume. Nick is a pretty solid family man with a decent job, lovely wife and good well adjusted kids. His oldest is a hockey player and has big things in his future. The parents raised him right. Well all that changes one fateful night after watching his son’s latest game. They stop a corner store so Nick’s son can grab a slurpie inside. Unfortunately a gang of young sadistic punks come in to rob the place. They kill the store owner and egged on by the other members of the gang one of them brutal slashes Nick’s son’s throat to prove he is worthy. Nick tries to stop them from leaving as he was waiting outside but they get away. He runs inside to comfort his dying son as he is bleeding out fast. It’s actually a pretty brutal scene that takes the violence very seriously. Well done.
Eventually the one responsible for murdering his son is brought to court but due to a technicality he is set free. This leads Nick down a path a revenge where he tracks down Joe the killer and and stabs him on a dark night outside of his apartment. Boom. Problem over. Revenge dealt with. Not so fast.
Turns out Joe, the one Nick killed for killing his son was the younger brother of the leader of that gang Billy. And now Billy wants revenge. After looking at all the clues Billy and his boys realize it was Nick that was the killer and go to track and take him out in broad day late at his office job. A chase through a parkade happens and Nick gets away and actually ends up killing another member of the gang. Now things are getting ugly.
Later that night even under police protection Billy and his gang break into Nick’s house and end shooting him, his wife, and even the youngest son. Waking up in the hospital Nick is told his wife has died and his surviving son might not make it. These are the results when you keep pushing for revenge. As much as it’s so justified the blowback can be twice as hard. One minute you have a a loving family of four and the next two are dead and the third might not make it.
It’s at this point where Nick goes full vigilante mode with nothing to lose. One minute you are the vice president at some insurrance firm and the next you empty out your savings to buy guns, shave your head, and basically go full Travis Bickle. The climax is quite brutal without the typical crowd cheering moments that most glossier versions of this story have shown or told us in the past. No, Death Sentence is a cold and raw revenge flick and works very well as such.
It has to be pointed out that John Goodman is also in this film which is a true bonus as always. His character of “Bones” is a sleazy autoshop owner who is obviously into shady business on the side. But the real interesting scene is when Nick goes to him to buy the weapons off him and Bones makes it known that both Billy and Joe are his kids but he will not try and stop Nick because they acted without his authority. Hard ass father tactics indeed. Look, any scene with John Goodman in your movie is a plus. And getting back to the ealier point on how this film showed the violence very cold and unnerving that might have been a reason why a typical Hollywood movie crowd was turned off from this movie. Every action had consequeces for every character and if you are a person that expects the good guy to wear white and the bad guy black then maybe this movie is not for you. But maybe if you appreciate the colour grey then Death Sentence might be for you.
Next up…2012’s SUSHI GIRL directed by Kern Saxton. It was my first time attended Montreal’s Fantasia Film Fest and getting to sit in on this little gem of movie was quite the treat especially with the cast being their for a Q and A after. I mean come on, Luke Skywalker and Candyman on then stage infront of us? Crazy! But that’s just it. Sometimes seeing a film under those circumstances might blur the mind on how good or bad the film actually is because you lived an experience. So months later we screened it as part of our film festival DEDFEST with no guest actors or anything there after. Just our fun movie loving crowd, beer, and honest opinions. After that second viewing I knew I genuinely enjoyed the movie for what it was and what it was trying to be.
Fish has just been released from jail after serving a few years for a robbery gone wrong and all his old crime buddies wanna throw him a welcome back to society dinner at a sushi house. This is the idea of the group’s unspoken leader Duke played amazingly by Tony Todd. Honestly I have always been a fan of his and he will forever be know as the Candyman to all genre fans out there but he truly carries this role and at times the entire movie with acting force. Also along for the good times are Crow played by Mark Hamill who seems to hinting at us with a slight Joker voice he is known to by millions of fans, the very in your face Max (Andy Mackenzie), and still having problems with his drug addiction Francis played by James Duval.
At the center of the table is the young Sushi Girl herself played by Cortney Palm who only has one job, to be the human serving tray that the food is laid upon and to stay perfectly still and quiet. She was prepared for this by the master sushi chef played by none other than the living legend himself Sonny Chiba. I admit, you keep throwing in cult classic actors like this in your movie and you have my attention. So as the greetings are all done with it becomes apparent that none of the guys have seen each other since the robbery and there is a question that needs to be answered. What happened to the millions of dollars worth of diamonds that simply vanished that day. After pleading his case it becomes clear that Fish is prime suspect number one of keeping them for himself the guys will do whatever it takes to get him to give up the where abouts of the riches.
What takes place next is a series of flashbacks leading up to that day and the events of the robbery itself showing Fish as the new guy on a crew that’s worked together a few times before whether they like and hate each other. There is no love between Crow and Max as both always seem to wanna be in Duke’s good books. There is always questions with Francis and his ability to get the job done without letting his drug habit get in the way. But like any dysfuncial family they are a team of career criminals and work well that way regardless. Not happy with Fish’s excuses and answers he is giving them Duke gives a beautifully haunting speech about his father and Clock Timer which he puts on the table. This sets up a series of brutal torture sessions on Fish by each of the members who figure their way will finally give them the answers they need.
Now yes to be fair this movie could fall under the Tarantino knock off catagory especially Reservoir Dogs. But the irony is that most who would accuse this film of that would be the first to defend QT’s movies for doing the exact same thing. Now I love Reservoir Dogs and I like this movie very much too. The key is if you are gonna have a similiar themed plot we have seen before what can you do with it that elevates it? In the case of Sushi Girl the already mentioned incredible rock solid acting of Tony Todd is a big win. And even though it took me a couple viewings to totally embrace it the outrageous Mark Hamill in a role that honestly seemed so strange for him to play but I enjoy how odd it is worked for me too. This film could have been shot as a play and I would have been all for it. Actors must love making a film like this because it really relies on them and their abilities to carry it. No giant CGI battles are there to save or distract the movie. Small set, simple story, acting must make it work.
Even I have been guilty of forgetting about this movie from time to time as it’s buried in the corner of my shop but everytime I toss it on in the background while working I find myself become engaged all over again listening to the banter of these shady characters sitting around the Sushi Girl on a night when the questions will be answered. But the answers might not be what any of them are expecting when it’s all said and done.
Okay, truth be told I grew up listening to else because my mom was a big fan and every now and then I will catch myself grooving to the tunes. The ’69 comeback concert was a thing of beauty and I actually used to have an Elvis lamp with him wearing that outfit. Ahh memories. Anyways, this brings us to 2001’s 3000 Miles From Graceland. What a trashy, entertaining, star studded, caper action movie this turned out to be that absolutely no one saw in the theatre except for me and probably 12 other people. Seriously, it did not do well at all. But as with many things time can be kind and certain films that were loved twenty years ago aged badly and ones that were kicked with mud have blossomed as they have found an audience. Well atleast more of an audience then back when it opened.
First off it has Kurt “Coolest Man In Hollywood” Russell in it. Kurt plays professional robber with a heart of gold Michael. Michael is staying at a motel on the edge of Las Vegas waiting to meet up with the other members of the would be gang of theives that are gonna pull off a daring casino heist later that day. While at the hotel Michael meets a kid named Jesse who is staying there with his mom Cybil played by Gale Weathers herself Courtney Cox. Micahel soon realizes this little kid is a thief and took his wallet. He goes to get it back and ends up having a just a good old time with Cybil in the bed before the gang comes to pick him up. It is at this point we meet Murphy played with sweet style by Kevin Costner. Did I mention I love when Costner either plays a bad guy or a sports guy? Those are signs of a fun Kevin Costner movie. Also along for the ride are Christian Slater, David Arquette, and Bokeen Woodbine. Pretty stacked cast. And then the fun begins…
At the casino they are looking to take down t just happens to be a world famous Elvis Presley convention with literally hundreds upon hundreds Elvis impersonators everywhere. Perfect. Every movie has that one money shot and for me seeing these five actors walking through the hotel and casino like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever rocking the sweet Presley look was badass. Now Murphy takes the Elvis thing more serious than most because the side story of his character goes that he is convinced he is one of the many offsprings of the King himself but can not get it proven. Anyways, with Elvis tunes blaring the heist is on and getting into the vault room, getting the money, and ofcourse getting out gets completely messed up when security with guns come a blazing. But these Elvises are packing heavyy heat of their own and the fire works are on in probably the best segment of the entire movie.
When all is said and done they make their escape roof top with a helecopter waiting. Woodbine’s character dies by gun fire and the rest get back to the motel to see the loot. But before the money can be spent it needs to cleaned and laundered which is an important plot point. Not soon after Murphy shows his true colours and kills Arquette and Slater without mercy and thinking he killed our beloved Kurt Russell as well he leaves him for dead in the dessert.
What happens for the rest of the film is a chase, cat and mouse, race around the world, and father knows best sitcom action movie with Michael, Cybil, and her sneaky thief son Jesse. Murphy is on the hunt for the money which has ended back up in Michael’s hands thanks to that little thief kid. The whole movie comes down to a warehouse shootout involving Ice-T. That’s right kids, just when you thought it could not get any better it just did!
Some underrated films are just that because they were just meant to be made to give you a mindless fun time at the cinema, not change the art of filmmaking. Honestly I think this movie did just that. If enjoy simply watching Kurt Russell be Kurt Russell and maybe throw in the fact that seeing Kevin Costner play a piece of shit baddie then I would say take the trip to Graceland. You’ve watched worse and you know it.
And now we move from guilty pleasure to no guilt what’s so ever. There is no doubt in my mind that Shane Meadows DEAD MAN’S SHOES is simply a grim, powerful, and bleak as fuck revenge masterpiece of filmmaking that made sure from the time I saw this movie I would watch anything with Paddy Considine in it from that point on.
This is the story of two brothers. Older brother Richard and his youngerand a little slow in head brother Anthony. Richard, play by Considine, was always there for his younger brother growing up. He would be the one to look after him, the one to make sure none of the other boys would take advantage of him. But Richard was a soldier and got called off to military duty for awhile. It was during that time gone that something happened to Anthony. Something older brother Richard can not let go of until those responsible get what’s coming to them.
One of the nice things about growing up in a small town is everyone knows each other. One of the bad things is everyone knows each other. The horrible thing a group of locals did to slow witted Anthony seemed to have been led by a local drug dealer named Sonny and his boys. Now Sonny knows that Richard is back and has herd all about it. Now he might be wanting to have a word with him sooner than later. Make no mistake about it in this film, even the slightest conversation between two characters is more intense and gripping than most Hollywood gun fight scenes.
Whether it’s a sweet and quiet scene of Richard and Anthony just walking together through a field knowing what actions will be happening soon enough or an intense scene where Richard literally walks right up to Sonny and his guys and basically tells them if they were smart they would get in their car and leave town now or they will all die. You are hooked watching this movie. You believe Richard when he says it too. Paddy Considine is so fucking intense in this role. Anyone that aspirses to be an actor needs to see his range in this. Seriously, most people know him best for the comedic roles he’s had in the Simon Pegg/ Nick frost movies over here.
This movie plays off like a slow burning but always intense 70s style film at times. You know eventually shit is gonna go down. You know the violence is coming. But when it strikes it feels blunt and harsh like a slap across your face. Another heavy throwback reminder of Taxi Driver in that respect. I also wanna add the music in this movie is absolutely beautiful and haunting. Shane Meadows would follow this up with another popular flick in the videostore THIS IS ENGLAND which was based off of his childhood. Needless to say after seeing these two movies I became a huge fan of his real grim depiction of things while still maintaining a humanity to his stories.
I talked about DEATH SENTENCE earlier saying it’s not a cheer out loud kind of revenge flick. Well DEAD MAN’S SHOES takes that even further. When you get to the end and the music hits and the credits roll it makes you feel like calling someone you were a shitty person to in the past and say “I’m sorry”. Top notch acting, pacing, editing, and music make this a MUST SEE for those who have not. It’s on the rack beside my desk. Get on it!
Well my drink is almost done and I have to make sure the shop is sort of open on time tomorrow. But I have one more for you because I mentioned Taxi Driver earlier. Well the writer of that movie is Mr. Paul Schrader and in 1979 he gave us another hard hitting and definately ahead of it’s time movie in HARDCORE.
The story itself is quite simple. Legendary actor George C. Scott plays a good business and family man Jake Dorn from small town America with the deep religious values that come with it. Jake has one loving young daughter Kristen who he drops off to Sunday school like any other week and then she is never heard or seen from again.A father’s worst nightmare indeed. The police have nothing to go on so Jake decides to hire a private detective to help him track her down.
Andy Mast, played by the great Peter Boyle, is the PI hired and he returns to Jake with a disturbing piece of evidence that might explain his daughter’s where abouts. An 8mm sex tape with a girl in it that looks like his beloved Kristen.
If there is one iconic scene from this film that has been used in a paraody form on the internet for many different things it the moment Jake is watching the print and seeing his emotions rage out as his eyes confirm to us that it is indeed Kristen in that sex tape. But why? How? And thus begins the true purpose of this movie. It is at this point that Jake Dorn is gonna get his daughter back but having a small town religious family man dive into the underbelly of the 1979 sex world in LA is no easy task.
Jake is truly a fish out of water and will need help to navigate through this world. Lucky he meets Niki, a woman in the trade, and for the right price will help him and show the in and outs of the world he knows nothing of.
Jake dives in deep and deeper. He even pretends to be a casting director in porn to try and track down one of the men from the video. Infact the story almost becomes less about the hunt for his lost daughter and more about Jake himself seeing this side of society. He now seems to so easliy be sliding into to from moment to moment.
Now I’m not gonna say if he does or does not find his daughter but a movie like this I personally feel it’s more about the journey and not the destination. Now please do not think that means the ending is disappointing or bad. Far from it infact. But after watching the film I think you will know what I mean. You have seen George C. Scott in some great films I’m sure but this is a much overlooked one that deserves to be seen but many more. Honestly it would help if the DVD or Blu Ray was back in print but soon I’m sure it will back in shop. Regardless of that when you watch it keep in mind this film came out 41 years ago and still packs quite the punch.
This was a fun one to talk about so you can bet I’ll be do some digging through the dark back shelves of the videostore soon enough and mention some more titles that maybe should be talked about more and most definately watched more and introduced to a new audience. Anyways, whiskey empty. Bed is calling. As always the videostore loves you. Cheers!