6 Jan 2012

Hobo with a shotgun

"I'm not watching that!" my partner said with firmly with a hint of disdain. Her pretty face marred by the wrinkle in her forehead as she glanced at the DVD cover. It was as if she had just noticed bird poo on her jacket or someone listening to Justin Bieber.  I could not blame her. The wounds of watching Conan were too fresh, too raw.

But while I respected her wishes, the lure of Rutger Hauer was too much.
But why? How many decent films has Mr. Hauer made?  Bladerunner is of course is his seminal work.  Lady Hawk  is a cult classic.  The Hitcher,  also another classic, and you can probably think of more.  But he has also made a truck load of bad movies too.
In my opinion the reason that I watch all his movies, good or bad is because my nostalgic love of those cult classics. It is also the reason why I forgive him those awful B grade German science fiction films like Omega Doom. But then that pulp is also something I enjoy as well. I revel in the sheer awfulness of it all.

Anyway a synopsis of Hobo with a Shotgun:

A Hobo (Rutger Hauer) arrives in a town hoping to make a new start. His dream is to buy a lawn mower so he can start his own business. But this town is run by the psychotic crime lord Drake (Brian Downey), who revels in nothing more than public displays of torture and murder.  The police are in Drakes pocket, and the public are paralysed in fear. The Hobo can take it no more and makes a stand. He gives up his dream and instead of buying a lawn mower, he buys a shotgun. He is going to dispense justice one shell at a time.

 When Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez made Grindhouse/Planet terror  in 2007 they had a competition for people to make exploitation trailers. The best would be included in their films. Hobo with a Shotgun was one of the winners. They went on to make the movie based on their trailer.

Here it is the winning short http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZaUOe4cNNk

Hobo with a Shotgun is a exploitation movie, but it is also a homage to the exploitation movies of the seventies. The whole opening credits, with the titles, the music and even the colour is reminiscent of seventies film making. If for nothing else the first five minutes were for me, worth the rental.

For the level of blood and gore Hobo with a Shotgun matches Braindead, but lacks the wit. With punks crushing peoples heads with bumper cars, and disembowelment with baseball bats with razorblades, it gets pretty messy.  The thing is with exploitation movies is that they are just like any other movie, Just lower the production value and increase the gore and sexual content to compensate.

The Plague
Basically it's pretty bad, but then again it's meant to be.  Brian Downey,  who you may know as Stanely Tweedle from Lexx,  is completely over the top as the sociopathic villain. But is campy performance is perfect for the ludicrous plot. And putting all sense of believability aside in regards to the basic premise, there are elements of fantasy. The School bus full of dead children seeking their revenge. Who are the plague? Where did they get a giant octopus from? Why do they have a giant Octopus? Are they seriously expecting us to  believe that they killed Lincoln?

It's a bizarre, airline sick bag of bloody gore being smashed into the face of the love child of good taste and wit, while she was playing happily on her new pink bike.  And I am sure it will be a cult classic. Rutger is great as the brooding lone gunman/vigilante seeking justice against the degenerate minority that is holding society to ransom holds true. I laughed when he shot the nonce Santa in the head, and applauded when the pimp goes flying.

I enjoyed it, but would hesitate to recommend it unless you have a taste for this sort of movie.  And I couldn't really give it more than five monkeys. But if you are a fan of Rutger Hauer, then don't miss Hobo with a Shotgun.

3 Jan 2012

Midnight in Paris

My young lady has put up with a lot in the last couple of years (not just me, but I am a handful). But despite everything life has thrown at her, she has born all that adversity with tremendous grace and dignity, and I admire her resolve, her professionalism and her tenacious and optimistic grip on life immensely.

So when she asked me to take her to a Woody Allen movie, I agreed without hesitation.
Those who follow this blog know that I abhor Mr. Allen's movies. I think it was  A Midsummers Nights Sex Comedy  was the first film I watched, and I hated it.  See my review of  Antz if you like, and he just acted in that.

I do not like Mr. Allen, I do not like that man.
I would not watch him with raspberry slice and jam,
I do not like that man!

But I do like my lady. And she loves literature, and Paris. So when she read about Midnight in Paris she really wanted to go and see it.
I fortified my self for the Woody Allen experience

Here is a synopsis:
Gil, a highly successful screenplay writer (Owen Wilson) and his fiance Inez  (Rachel McAdams) have been shouted a trip to Paris by  Inez's highly republican parents (Kurt Fuller, and Mimi Kennedy). Gil loves Paris. He is particularly interested in the Paris of the 1920's, when artists like Salvador Dali, Cole Porter and Hemingway all converged together and worked in the same circles.
Unfortunately Inez does not share Gil's fascination for the Paris, the old or the new. She prefers the company of her old college friend Paul, a pedantic intellectual who delights in correcting local tour guides. She also does not like the idea that Gil is considering moving to Paris to help him over come the issues he has with his first novel. Inez wants to move to Malibu and for Gil to continue writing highly profitable screen plays.
Despite being in his favourite city, Gil is down cast by the; lack of support from Inez, the intrusion of Paul, and Inez's parents dogmatic support of the tea party and their focus for money. Until one night as he gets lost walking back to his hotel alone at midnight he is magically transported to Paris of the Twenties and into the circles of artists he admires so much. Gil finds that he can travel back in time night after night to Paris and the Twenties, and he does so. Ensue various literary us Hijinx.

The first thing that struck me about this film was the opening which was a montage of different shots of Paris. From the beginning you can see that Mr. Allen has a love for the city. This is reflected not just in the story, but the way he has shot the city, with a mixture of the traditional, almost cliched image of Paris and the back street markets and cafes that exist for Parisians.

As I was introduced to the characters I could see Owen Wilson channelling the acting style of Woody Allen. And while I was enjoying the imagery of Paris, and had some sympathy for the character as a writer struggling against social pressures, his characterisation was leaving me cold. He seemed introverted and slightly uncompromising in his views. And in some ways as pedantic as his fiances irritating friend Paul (Michael Sheen). But when he meets Hemingway I was instantly drawn into the story. The portrayal of these artists is magnificent; Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein, Adrian Brody as Salvador Dali, and my favourite Corey Stoll as Hemingway. Wilson becomes a straight man for these actors to portray these great figures from artistic history for us. I also commend Kurt Fuller, and Mimi Kennedy's performance as the advocates for the Tea party.

As is the case in much of Mr. Allen's work  Midnight in Paris  is a story of self discovery and change. And unlike other movies that he has written, it is more accessible and less whiny. Also gratefully there is not a hint of sexual dysfunction.

Yes I admit it I liked a Woody Allen movie. It was a fun, clever and light hearted film with genuine laugh out loud moments. If you are like me and do not enjoy Mr. Allen's work, you may enjoy this, even if you do not have a love of art.
Seven and a half monkeys from me