Monday, May 31, 2010

I Killed a Girl. It Was No Accident (aka Good-Bye, Dennis)

Dennis Hopper.  Dead.  We lost a good one.

Hopper starred in his share of shit.  That can't be argued.  He was brilliant in many films, however, and two of those were Blue Velvet and River's Edge, which also had Crispin Glover in it.  (It was also Keanu Reeves' best movie.)  Imagine that.  Hopper and Glover together in a film that was this mass of kinetic, drug-fueled mania.

Hopper also starred in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, but his role could have been played by anyone.  Bill Moseley made that film.  Hopper was fun to watch in it, however, as he was in most things he was in.  Well, maybe not Super Mario Bros., where he played King Koopa.  A career low point for any actor, I'm sure.  You can't ignore that ... as much as you want to.  He made some questionable choices.  But the ones that weren't such a stretch of intelligence were almost sublime.

Blue Velvet is one of David Lynch's best films, and a great deal of its success is due to Hopper.  The strange gas he inhales.  The insane screams.  Screwing Isabell Rossellini with scissors while saying, "Baby wants to fuck."  Inspired.  Show me a better film about small town life in America.  I dare you.

Hopper died the same week Gary Coleman, who lived in a locker in On the Right Track.  They don't really compare, but it seems somewhat disrespectful that Coleman would go the same week ... even if he did go first.  When you lose a legend, you just let anyone else go the same week.  It would be like that guy from Creed dying three days before Dio.  It just isn't right.

I wouldn't consider Hopper to be a legend, but he was close.  He was a work horse, as is witnessed by the amazing amount of stuff he's been in.  He was at his best when playing the madman.  He did not stretch himself all that much, but he delivered when he was in the right role, and that's better than 70% of the actors out there now. 

My three favorite Hopper films, River's Edge, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and Blue Velvet all came out in 1986.  It was a good year for film.  I end this with a quote from River's Edge, where Hopper plays Feck, an insane guy who lives with a love doll, if memory serves me correctly. "I killed a girl, it was no accident. Put a gun to the back of her head and blew her brains right out the front. I was in love."

That's a great quote.  Fits just about any situation.

Good-bye, Dennis.     

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Iron Man 2 Problem

I saw the first Iron Man and liked it.  I like the character (always have) and thought Robert Downey, Jr. did a fine job bringing it to life.  The movie had some dumb Hollywood moments, but it was a Hollywood movie so that was to be expected.  When I started seeing trailers for the sequel, I made plans to see it opening weekend or the weekend after if I didn't feel like dealing with the crowds.

Somewhere along the line that changed, and it had nothing to do with the movie or crowds.  It had everything to do with me.

I went from wanting to see the sequel to being totally ambivalent about it.  I didn't even really think about the reason why until someone asked me if I were going to see it.  After some soul searching, I think I figured it out.

It's all about my mood.

Right now I'm over stressed to the point where headaches are a daily event and sleep is some elusive pipe dream.  I am in a foul head space, and I have no desire to see something that is just pure entertainment (though I think I could benefit from it).  I realized all of this when Mario Bava's La Maschera del Demonio arrived in the mail and I was absolutely giddy at the prospect of sitting in the dark and taking that classic in.

I don't want happy right now.  I want something that reflects my state of mind, and a Marvel superhero ain't it (no matter how much I like him). 

Maybe my emotional state will change in a day or two and I'll find myself in line, ready to enjoy the movie up until it's final act, as is usually the case with superhero movies.  Maybe I'll just wait for the DVD, like I did with the first one.  Maybe I'll never see it and just watch my usual suspects of emotional grind on steady repeat. 

If you go, I hope you enjoy it.  Me?  I'll be watching a spiked metal mask be hammered into Barbara Steele's face and feeling every minute of it ... and that smile won't be wiped off my face.  

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

It's Only a Movie

When remakes first started to be the thing for Hollywood to do instead of finding original stories, I figured there were a handful of films that Hollywood would never dream of touching.  Cannibal Holocaust and The Last House on the Left were two of those.

Obviously I was wrong on the latter.

I haven't seen the remake of the Wes Craven classic, as I'm not a fan of remakes or even the original film in this case, but from what I hear from people who have seen both is that the remake is disturbing but nowhere near as bad as the original.  So what is the fucking point?

The Last House on the Left is, for better or worse, considered a hallmark of cinema nastiness.  Why would anyone attempt to remake it if they couldn't top it?  It's not supposed to be a pleasant film, so why not go for broke? 

I know the real reason remakes are made is to quite simply cash in on the original film's name and history.  That can work with something like Halloween.  With Craven's rape/revenge film, however, it doesn't seem like a name and history you'd want to cash in on unless you were going to make it better.  After all, the original film's fans are smart enough to know that Hollywood is not going to make a movie like the original just out of fear of the reaction it would produce, so those fans are lost.  New viewers, who watch anything that comes out, will go simply because it's new, so why not try a new film all together that is in the vein of the original (with a different title) and try to rope in both crowds?

The way I see it, the only extra audience that the remake could have received is the crowd that has knowledge of the original film but never saw it because they were frightened of it, but now they know that Hollywood would never put out a film that actually challenges viewers.  Therefore, they feel safe going to see the new film.  They won't be challenged, they won't see anything that sticks with them for years, they won't leave the theatre shaking. 

Perhaps someday we'll see films go back to that wild, free-for-all of the period from the late '60s to early '80s, but I doubt it.  The film, art, economic and cultural climate has changed so much that those days seem beyond reach.  Hollywood should remember that and stop trying to embrace that era without any of the trappings that made it so great.  Not only is that cowardly, but it's a total waste of time on everyone's part.

And if Cannibal Holocaust gets remade with Nic Cage I just may shoot someone.