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Showing posts from July, 2019

Like Tears in Rain: RIP Rutger Hauer

Rutger Hauer passed away recently in the Netherlands, where he was born and raised and first became the electrifying movie star we know him to be. The news of his death cuts deep for movie lovers everywhere. Surely, we thought, this cannot be real. Through his incredible performances and thoughtful dissections of his work in interviews, it seemed he would live forever, or at least well into his twilight years. He was only 75. He was still acting. Clearly, he had more to give.

After a string of stunning collaborations with fellow Dutchman Paul Verhoeven in the Netherlands (Turkish Delight, Soldier of Orange, Spetters)  Hauer embarked on a career in Hollywood, first appearing in an American film in 1981, with the criminally underrated gritty New York City thriller, Nighhawks. Sylvester Stallone and Billy Dee Williams play NYPD detectives trying to capture international terrorist Wulfgar. (Hauer). Hauer's chillingly charismatic and fascinatingly complex performance leaves an indelib…

My Favorite Death Dealer: Kate Beckinsale

"I dropped out of Oxford, and now I only speak Russian with the woman who gives me a bikini-wax. See what Hollywood does to you?"
"Apparently, I'm very good at firing a gun without blinking, which is unusual. That's why so many action characters have to wear sunglasses during shoot-out scenes. That's my party trick."
"Someone once said that you can make the choice between getting old and getting creepy, and I think getting old is the way to go."
*****



Before I begin, here's a haiku that took me at least ten seconds to write:
Ah, Kate Beckinsale.  We'd gladly live with you, in your Underworld
Yeah, so, I'm a fan.
I've always been a fan of Kate Beckinsale, especially as the vampire Death Dealer Selene in the action/horror franchise Underworld (five films and counting now) and as a young upwardly mobile publishing professional in Whit Stillman's masterpiece of early 1980s ennui The Last Days of Disco, a film that hardly ever g…

Capsule Reviews: The Escort

Quick-hit movie reviews for the masses.

The Escort (2016) is a thoroughly modern romantic comedy for the "selfie generation," as one character labels millennials in the film. It's a breezy and brisk jaunt through the minefields of modern romance. Our guides are an unemployed writer using sex to fill the emotional void at his empty core, and a Stanford-educated prostitute with great business sense and exquisite taste in evening wear.


Early on, the film notes its debt to other hooker with a heart of gold films like Pretty Woman, but departs slightly from the formula to explore current issues and preconceptions affecting milliennials. The film has at least a little to say about a lot of topics, including sex workers, sex addiction, cyberbullying, feeling washed up and cast aside in your twenties, and more. Full disclosure: I am not a millennial (Gen-Xer in the house), so while I can't vouch for the accuracy of the generational portrayal, it at least feels honest to me.


T…

Capsule Reviews: Night of the Juggler

Quick-hit movie reviews for the masses.

Qualities one might hold against certain movies, like total implausibility and chaotic cinematography, are actually what make Night of the Juggler (1980) such a weirdly memorable cult film. From the start, the film floors it into high gear and rarely ever slows down for a breather.

James Brolin, still rocking his 1970s wild man hair and beard, is an ex-cop who witnesses his young teenage daughter being abducted right in the middle of a crowded New York City park. The kidnapper, played with unsettling intensity by Cliff Gorman, is a bigoted, cackling lunatic who also happens to be an idiot—he thought he was kidnapping the daughter of a wealthy elite member of society; instead he's nabbed a middle class truck driver's kid.

Brolin immediately gives chase on foot, and we're off to the races. Brolin runs, and runs, and runs, and runs some more, seemingly cutting a path clear across Manhattan and into some neighboring boroughs for good mea…

New Musical Obsession: Girlschool

A sporadic series celebrating old music that's new to me.

One of the great pleasures in life is discovering an old movie, book, or musical act that had previously escaped your eyes or ears and therefore was new to you. I had this experience recently with UK metal goddesses, Girlschool. I'd heard of Girlschool, but had no idea they've been recording and shredding in concert for over forty years now, or that they absolutely rocked. We're talking pedal to the metal, balls to the wall, hide small children, and turn it up to eleven rock.


Girlschool's Spotify station has been a wonderland of sonic pleasure so far. The girls of Girlschool--and while the roster has changed over the years, the classic lineup is Kim McAullife, Enid Williams, Denise Dufort, and the late, great Kelly Johnson--are kicking my arse and I love it. Thin Lizzy is the closest parallel I can think of to describe their sound. The pummeling yet absurdly melodic riffs are like crack for my cerebral corte…

Nicole Kidman: The Paperboy

Selections from Nicole Kidman's  filmography that demonstrate her extraordinary talent and risk-taking commitment.

I'm often asked if there are other actors I might be interested in giving the Michelle Pfeiffer treatment—a series of reviews offering a thorough career retrospective. 

The short answer? No. But, if I'm being honest, yes, there are a few performers whose careers I'd like to explore in a similar series of posts. Although I have no desire to do an entire run through anyone else's filmography—mostly because I'm only that obsessively interested in Pfeiffer's career, but also because I just don't have the time to do it for another actor—certain actors do leap to mind. Vera Farmiga. Al Pacino. Winona Ryder. Michael Keaton. Gina Gershon.

One legend stands out in my mind as particularly deserving of special attention, so much that I could imagine doing closer to a dozen or more reviews of her work: the inimitable Nicole Kidman.


Kidman is not only one…