Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Okay, let's try to start blogging more - a gradual goal, as making this post, establishes blogging more.

Saw a couple of cult movies in the past week I had never seen before, The Warriors and Escape from New York. Both are really made by their premise - particularly Escape from New York - Manhattan is turned into a prison that runs itself, President trapped inside, former war vet-turned criminal has to rescue him to secure his own freedom. How can that be bad?

In addition, while Kurt Russell pretty much starts his ascent up the hollywood ladder (to the great heights of "Soldier" and "3000 Miles to Graceland," Escape from New York is populated by a bizarre assortment of stars from an earlier time. For example, Ernest Borgnine, who most people my age know as the guest dad in the Junior Campers episode of The Simpsons, played a crazy cabbie who drives Russell around town. Adrienne Barbeau, who was apparently married to John Carpenter from 1979-1984, leading to her roles in Escape from New York and The Fog, was best known for her part as Bea Arthur's divorced daughter in Maude. Barbeau plays the squeeze of Harry Dean Stanton, who was smack in the middle of his career as a character actor, and can now been seen as a 80-year old cult leader on HBO's Big Love. Lastly, Lee Van Cleef, "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly"'s Bad, plays the police commissioner who injects Russell with some sort of chemical which means he must return within 22 hours to have it removed, or die.

Overall, a very solid movie. Solid '80s synth music in the background, a ludicrous chandelier car driving by Issac Hayes (I finally get an incredibly random "Duke of New York" reference in Aqua Teen Hunger Force) and coliseum combat involving a club with a spike on it. Moves along fairly quickly, Russell growls more than he actually talks, and it's essentially the basis for the Metal Gear Solid series.

The Warriors was also a movie made largely by the premise – New York in the future/past is dominated by gangs – when one gang leader tries to unite them all in the North Bronx, he is assassinated – the real assassins frame one gang, The Warriors, and the Warriors have to attempt to get to their home and safe ground in Coney Island, while clearing their name, while every other gang is out for them. The lead actor, Michael Beck is something of a two-movie wonder – his turn in this must have inspired the producers of Xanadu to pick him up as the lead, and his turn in Xanadu must have inspired producers everywhere to never place him in a lead again. David Patrick Kelly, who plays the sadistic true assassin, and beckons the title group with one of the movies two most famous line (“Warriors, come out and play,” with a huge emphasis and a bit of whining on the “play”), is something of a character actor who finds himself all over the place, recently, as President Truman, in the movie I saw immediately proceeding “The Warriors,” “Flags of Our Fathers.” James Remar, who plays a Warrior, but rival to Michael Beck’s Swan, is seen here and there as a villain, such as in “48 Hours” and now co-stars in Showtime’s “Dexter” a show I hear good things about and mean to get around to watching. Strangest in my mind was Lynn Thigpen as the radio DJ, best known for her role as the Chief in the kids game show “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?”

I enjoyed the warriors a good deal as well – there are some solid fights which some particularly strange gangs – most notably the Baseball Furies – a group of bat wielding nuts that wear face paint. While less gruff than Snake from “Escape from New York,” Swan is equally unemotional and is back and forth with the female lead, either getting with her, or calling her a whore.

Next out is The Machinist, where I look forward to seeing a deathly ill Christian Bale.

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