Sunday, August 16, 2009

Torrent Picks 8/16/09

Ok so, its the time of the week again, and I'm back with more movies for y'all to have yourselves some looks at, hopefully they'll be as enjoyable to all of you, as they are to me..

now then, lets get right to it...

Empire Records: I talk alot about cult films, and how each generation has theirs, the world war 2 generation have all those crappy John Wayne movies where he's kicking Nazis in the ass and saying "Pilgrim" randomly. The 1950s have those shitty Elvis movies, the early 1960s had Beach movies, the late 1960s had drug movies, the 1970s had more then cult genres then Steve McQueen had hubcaps in Bullit, and the 1980s had the films of John Hughes, but the 1990s, we had ourselves afew films of our own that fit into the realm of "generational cult films", I touched on this last week with 10 Things I Hate About You, and am continuing it this week with Empire Records, one of the lesser mentioned but still pretty cult-tastic 1990s generational movies. Among its stars are Liv Tyler and Renée Zellweger long before both of their careers went into the toilet, as well as always over looked but awesome, Debi Mazar. The film is basically just a combination of many different little stories about the young people that work in a small but awesome looking record store, and their silly little issues and lives, their conflictions and confusions about growing up and becoming adults, you know the normal, questioning their place in the world and such, which is a common theme in films of this nature, and in the end, everyone discovers that no matter how different they all are, they are all friends, and come together as a kind of family in time to save their record store from closing, and is customary with films like this in the end the cast is all happily dancing on the roof as cheery pop music plays. Now sure, it doesn't sound like much, and I guess to many it might not, but its a cute and pretty funny way to spend two hours, atleast I think it is, plus its a generational film, so it helps you see into the mind of people the age group its aimed at, which always comes in handy.

I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang: I talk at times of my love for "pre-code" films, meaning movies made, mostly in the early 1930s that were made before hollywood started to use a ratings system for films "Pre-Code" normally are seen as the parent to Film Noir and the grandparent to exploitation films, infact the term "Grindhouse" comes from a pre-code film called "Lady of The Burlesque". I tend to note films like 1932's "Scarface" or 1931's "Night Nurse" normally, but one of the best, atleast in my eyes, is 1932's "I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang" which stars the brilliant but often times forgotten about entirely Paul Muni, who also starred in "Scarface" earlier in the year, Chain Gang is unique in the fact its based on a serialized story from a pulp magazine that aimed toward the detective and crime movie crowd. Its the story of Sergeant James Allen, a World War One vet who comes home and can't really find work, he accidentally gets caught up in a robbery attempt and is sent to prison, from which he escapes, he makes his way from the deep south to Chicago, where he has a second chance and actually becomes a success in construction, and becomes involved with the woman that runs the boarding house he lives in, when she finds out that he's a fugitive, she blackmails him into marriage, he agrees do to his not wanting to return to jail, its an unhappy marriage, he eventually meets Helen, whom he genuinely falls in love with, when he asks for a divorce he's betrayed by his current wife, and after what turns out to be a set up, Jim escapes again and goes on the run, leaving Helen behind. The final scene of the film, between Jim and Helen, where you see that a man who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, goes from just wanting to be free to embracing his new role of criminal, is seen by many to be the greatest scene ever shot in Hollywood, and though I can think of afew that are close, I agree with that statement, even adding to it the fact that the lighting and how Muni moves in it, which is what really makes the scene, was done because of an accidentally malfunctioning lighting system and no money left to reshoot, just makes the film so much more brilliant.

Le Mans: One of my favorite actors of all time, is with out a doubt, Steven McQueen, he's that rare mix of believable tough guy, believable sensitive guy, and just plain awesome, he was that guy that guys wanted to be, and that guy women wanted to be with, as tired and lame as that sounds, but its true. The film really has a pretty simple plot, it centers around the 24 hour Rally race of Le Mans, and is kind of what we call a "Docudrama" where its truthful to the actual race and how its done, using both stock footage and actual stunt footage filmed by real drivers, to give you that real feel. The film's small plot focuses on predominately the Porsche and Ferrari teams, how they get through the race, how they deal with accidents, and how they're job effects their family lives. Sure, its not much of a film and is alot of driving on screen, but thats all the film needs to really have, it doesn't need to be dialog heavy, the film is ment to show you that real life racing and all the inner workings there in, is truly a great drama that plays out every time they start their engines. Alot of people might find this film boring if they don't look at the film that way, and I guess I can see how that would be possible, and I guess it comes down to just how you see things on if you enjoy the film or not. But personally, I like it, but then, I'm a big Steve McQueen fan too, so.. yeah.

Man in the Chair: This award-winning independent drama stars Christopher Plummer as Flash, a man who longs for the days when he worked as a crew member on such cinematic masterpieces as Citizen Kane. When Flash meets teenage film fanatic Cameron Kincaid, he becomes an unlikely mentor and agrees to help Cameron make a film to compete in a student competition where the top prize is a film school scholarship and, for Cameron, a ticket out of his difficult home life. Flash, who sees his own life drawing to a close recruits the support of his eccentric friends at the Motion Picture home and helps Cameron make his film and chase his dream. This film is one of those passed over gems that you kick yourself for missing when you did. Its biggest thing for me, is that it stands out as a metaphor for old world Hollywood passing away and giving way to not only the newer generation, but also to the new century with hopes that all that came after it have learned what they, the first generation of hollywood had created, and the hopes that someday, their ways will return. The film itself is engaging and poignant in a way thats uniquely its own, its at times funny, and at other times sad, and it will in its moments move you.

Well, I'm gonna cut this short this week by one, given time and afew other factors today, so I hope you all enjoy... we'll be back next week with more!



1 comment:

  1. thanks, BC. Looking forward to a couple of these!