Netflix Subtitled This n That – Big Bad Wolves Beyond Outrage

Big Bad Wolves and Beyond Outrage are currently available on instant Netflix. Yes, they both have subtitles but you are really missing out if you let that stop you.

Big Bad Wolves

 

Big Bad Wolves (2013) – Not rated

A vigilante cop joins forces with the father of a murder victim to interrogate the main suspect in a series of brutal child homicides.”

“Maniacs are afraid of maniacs.”

One Line Review: Big Bad Wolves is the movie Prisoners should have been.

Big Bad Wolves boasts a truly terrifying beginning that plays out over the credits without any dialogue. This is followed up with another brilliant sequence – an off-the-books interrogation with too many witnesses.

Any good discussion of this movie would spoil some of the surprises involved so I’ll keep this brief. Quentin Tarantino named this his film of the year for 2013 and  it is not hard to see why. Every scene goes on just as long as it should except the final scene which is the only superfluous one in the whole movie.

Beyond Outrage

 

Beyond Outrage (2012) – Rated R

This sequel to the yakuza thriller Outrage depicts a brutal war between the Sanno and Hanabishi crime families, both now more powerful than ever.”

Takeshi Kitano’s Outrage (2010), a complicated tale of power in the yakuza, was an ActionFest winner. It was a very matter of fact tale of how things work in organized crime, with only bosses profiting while soldiers build in resentment. Events reach a very nice conclusion.

The sequel, Beyond Outrage, picks up five years later. The Sanno family has prospered. There is a bit of revisionist history as we learn that a character thought dead at the end of Outrage survived his stabbing. Other than that, events build organically from the few survivors of Outrage. It too builds to a very satisfying conclusion.

Beyond Outrage is a good Yakuza film but is likely to be a bit impenetrable unless you have seen Outrage, If you have seen Outrage then you know whether this film is for you.

R.I.P. Elmore Leonard (1925-2013)

I was on another project for much of last week and am just now catching up on the news. Unfortunately we had a few passings, the most personal of which was that of criminal author Elmore Leonard. His writing was wonderfully wry and darkly comic, the majority of it focusing on criminal mischief and law enforcement, from the Old West to the New West.

Unfortunately there weren’t very many good adaptations of his work. Here are a few worth looking at on instant Netflix (Justified is Amazon Prime exclusive).

Jackie Brown

Jackie Brown (1997) – Rated R

Jackie Brown is an aging flight attendant who smuggles cash on the side. But when she’s busted and pressured to help with an investigation, she plans to play the opposing forces against each other and walk away with the dough.

While this is, first and foremost, a Quentin Tarantino film, Jackie Brown is based on Leonard’s novel, Rum Punch. The humor in the film is a mix of Tarantino and Leonard.

Hombre

Hombre (1967) – Not rated

Paul Newman stars as a half-Indian shunned by his fellow stagecoach passengers until a holdup forces them to trust him as he finds a way out of the desert. More 1960s than 1860s, this Western takes a hard look at racial injustice in the Old West.

Paul Newman is great in this semi-classic western.

Stick (1985) – Rated R

Ex-con Ernest “Stick” Stickley walks a fine line in this gritty crime drama, which follows the former crook trying to reconnect with his daughter and start a new life, all while seeking to find and punish the drug dealers who killed a close friend.”

Burt Reynolds playing Burt Reynolds. This was neither one of Burt’s best nor one of Leonard’s best.

Justified

Justified (2010-14)

Old-school U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens is reassigned from Miami to his childhood home in the poor, rural coal-mining towns in Eastern Kentucky.

Justified evolved from Leonard’s short story Fire in the Hole but his imprint is all over the series and Timothy Olyphant is excellent as Marshal Raylan Givens. Justified is an Amazon exclusive so those with Amazon Prime can watch the first three seasons for FREE. Sorry Netflix fans.

Rest in Peace, Elmore Leonard – you will be missed.

 

Django Unchained – Wife vs. Hubby

My wife and I went to see Django Unchained yesterday. This is part of an exchange deal where I take her to see Les Miserables on our next date.

My wife’s take on Django:

“This is Tarantino at his most self-indulgent.  Long, long-winded, poorly paced.  I went in knowing that it would be enormously offensive (it wasn’t nearly as offensive or difficult to watch at Killing Them Softly) and was surprised to find that it was instead mostly just … dull.  Any editor with sense could have cut at least an hour from this film and made it better.  Instead we have long, lingering shots of plantations, mountains, guns, snowmen, and more that don’t propel the story forward in anyway.  And then, two thirds of the way through the movie, it goes from buddy-flick (two wacky bounty hunters on the road to fame and fortune) to sadistic revenge flick (they enslaved him, and took his woman, now they’ll pay) without much transition.  And finally – this is the very first Tarantino flick I’ve ever watched and not thought I MUST GO BUY THE SOUNDTRACK RIGHT NOW.  There wasn’t a single song in this one that worked for the film (or for me).

So very disappointed.  I hope next week’s viewing of Les Mis is more satisfying.  If only I can keep people from spoiling it (further) for me between now and then…”

My take: Were we even watching the same film? Django was an utter delight. Tarantino has an amazing talent for mashing up and updating genres. To borrow from Kellogg, his dialogue snaps, crackles and pops. The violence was done in an amusingly over-the-top spaghetti western style and the cameo from the original Django, Franco Nero, was a hoot.

The acting ranged from good to amazing. Jaime Foxx carried the film quite well, channeling the quiet reserve of an early Eastwood. Christoph Waltz was fantastic as the bounty hunter as were Samuel L. Jackson and Leonardo DiCaprio. Less good but still a lot of fun were Walton Goggins, Dennis Christopher, and Don Johnson. In addition to Franco Nero, other cameos include Quentin Tarantino, Jonah Hill, Michael Parks, Russ Tamblyn, Amber Tamblyn, James Remar, James Russo, Zoe Bell, Tom Savini, and Robert Carradine.

Having extolled Django’s virtues (and there are many delights to be had here), I have to agree with my wife on a few points. The music appears to have been haphazardly chosen. There wasn’t a single spot on tune. Can you hear “Stuck in the Middle with You” without imagining the ear scene in Reservoir Dogs? All of the songs in Pulp Fiction make me think of their individual scenes yet none of Django’s songs made an impression.

The editing is clearly the sore point. Django runs over two and a half hours. Sally Menke, who expertly edited all of Tarantino’s films passed away in 2010. Sally was nominated for Academy Awards for Pulp Fiction and Inglorious Basterds (losing to Forrest Gump and The Hurt Locker, sheesh). That loss is clearly felt here as almost every scene ran on too long. I love an epic but Django desperately needs to lose about an hour of running time. Some of the dialogue becomes repetitious and establishing shots linger past their expiration date.

Tone is all over the map. The first two-thirds of the film turn Django from a slave into a bounty hunter and then the movie screeches to a halt as we reach Candyland, the plantation DiCaprio reigns over. None of the women make a strong impression – not that the actresses aren’t good, the roles are simply underwritten.

Django is weak Tarantino but weak Tarantino is better than most filmmakers on their best day. It is a lot of fun but it could have been a lot better.

 

From Dusk Till Dawn

From Dusk Till Dawn is currently available on instant Netflix.

From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) – Rated R

“Robbers-on-the-lam Seth and Richard Gecko take an ex-preacher and his kids hostage. On a race to the Mexican border, they rendezvous at a cantina, not knowing the owners and clientele are bloodthirsty vampires in this ode to 1960s horror movies.”

“I’m not gonna drain you completely. You’re gonna turn for me. You’ll be my slave. You’ll live for me. You’ll eat bugs because I order it. Why? Because I don’t think you’re worthy of human blood. You’ll feed on the blood of stray dogs. You’ll be my foot stool.”

Director and editor Robert Rodriguez makes two separate movies here. The first is a criminals on the run saga which takes up quite a bit of screentime but then it morphs into a vampire survival tale. Although much of it is unprintable, Tarantino’s script has a lot of punch and great characters.

George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino play the outlaw Gecko Brothers. Clooney is firm, loyal and desperate as bank robber Seth but Tarantino is off-the-wall as his crazy brother Richard. They take a family hostage on their way to Mexico. The father is an embittered ex-priest, Jacob Fuller, played by Harvey Keitel. His children are Kate and Scott Fuller played by Juliette Lewis and Ernest Liu.

Rodriguez packs the movie with guest stars. Before the bar, John Saxon cameos as FBI Agent Chase. John Hawkes, Oscar-nominated for Winter’s Bone, has an early role as Pete the store clerk. Kelly Preston (Mrs. John Travolta) is a newscaster.

At the bar, makeup artist Tom Savini plays Sex Machine. Makeup artists Greg (Walking Dead) Nicotero plays Sex Machine’s friend. Director Robert Rodriguez pops up as a bandmember. Fred “The Hammer” Williamson plays Frost. The lovely Salma Hayek plays Santanico Pandemonium (and dances with a snake for you fetishists). Cheech Marin plays three roles: a border guard, Chet, and Carlos.

The criminals on the run saga is pretty good, mainly due to Tarantino’s funny script. It takes awhile to get to the vampire portion of the movie but once there, Rodriguez makes it a non-stop roller coaster ride of vampire destruction. Special effects are good and fun, with the vampires perishing in a myriad of ways. They use a lot of green blood to get some of the killings past the ratings board (an old trick).

People Watch: The wonderful Michael Parks plays Texas Ranger Earl McGraw. He would reprise that character again in Kill Bill parts one and two as well as both segments of Grindhouse (Planet Terror and Death Proof). He also plays writer Ambrose Bierce in From Dusk Till Dawn 3.

Sequel-itis: What happens when you take a franchise and get rid of director Robert Rodriguez, writer Quentin Tarantino, and actors Harvey Keitel, George Clooney, Salma Hayek, and Juliette Lewis? The straight to video back-to-back sequels – From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money (1999) with Robert Patrick and Bo Hopkins and From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman’s Daughter (1999) with Michael Parks. The only connecting thread is Danny Trejo but the sequels are not very good.

Desperado – South of the Border week

This is South of the Border week. We will be featuring movies taking place in Mexico. Desperado is currently available on instant Netflix.

WATCH: Desperado (1995) – Rated R for strong bloody violence, a strong sex sequence and language.

“This south-of-the-border action flick picks up where the indie hit El Mariachi left off. Seedy drug lord Bucho (Joaquim de Almeida) is responsible for killing the girlfriend of El Mariachi (Antonio Banderas) and for injuring the musician to a point where he can no longer play the guitar. Seeking revenge, he goes in search of Bucho, and a showdown ensues between the rivals — but not before El Mariachi meets the lovely Carolina (Salma Hayek).”

“Bless me Father, for I have just killed quite a few men.”

Robert Rodriguez again writes, directs, produces, and edits for Desperado. Taking on so many tasks allows him to make films for a lot less.

Here he had $7 million to work with. This allowed him to work with a number of name actors and use a lot more real guns than in El Mariachi (which used squirt guns for many of the scenes).

Desperado is nominally a sequel to El Mariachi though it rehashes much of the plot and themes from the original (a la Evil Dead II).

The second bar fight is absolutely hilarious and is obviously very heavily inspired by John Woo. It is a very elaborate setpiece with a wonderful standoff. Rodriguez keeps his action frantic without being confusing (something that has become all too common these days).

Antonio Banderas is very charismatic as the Mariachi. This is the best role I have seen him in. He even does all of his own guitar work including “Cancion Del Mariachi” at the beginning of the film.

Salma Hayek is gorgeous and fun as Carolina. There is a hilarious scene  where she crosses the street and two cars behind her crash because they are watching her. I like it because she holds her own and is not just the love interest.

Robert Rodriguez stated that when they filmed the sex montage sequence between Salma Hayek and Antonio Banderas, everyone on the crew showed up.

Joaquim de Almeida plays our villain Bucho. This is essentially the same role Moco (Peter Marquardt) played in the original. Bucho is a boss much like Moco and dresses all in white just like Moco. Joaquim replaced Raul Julia, who had to drop out due to health reasons.

The supporting cast is absolutely marvelous.

Cheech Marin and Quentin Tarantino have a lot of fun with their humorous roles.

Steve Buscemi plays the conscience of the Mariachi. The role is so tailored to him that the character is actually called Buscemi. Originally he was to have been the pick-up guy but a new role was written for him when Tarantino decided to cameo.

Danny Trejo plays a knife-wielding assassin, Navajas. This is a very similar character to Azul in El Mariachi. Danny is finally going to headline a movie. Robert Rodriguez has made a feature-length movie out of his fake Grindhouse trailer, Machete and it is currently in post-production.

Carlos Gallardo returns from El Mariachi. This time he plays Campa, a friend to El Mariachi.

I highly recommend this quintessential action movie unless gore bothers you. If you enjoy this and El Mariachi then stick the final film in the trilogy, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, in your DVD queue.

People Watch: Actually not so much a “people” watch as a prop watch. The crotch gun that Carolina finds in the guitar case is sadly never used here. It is however used the following year in From Dusk Til Dawn (by Tom Savini no less).

Not Quite Hollywood – Ozploitation week

This week is dedicated to our filmmakers down under. Not Quite Hollywood – a documentary about Ozploitation is currently available on instant Netflix.

Not Quite Hollywood

WATCH: Not Quite Hollywood (2008) – Rated R for for graphic nudity, sexuality, violence and gore, some language and drug use

“Explore the unofficial history of Australian cult film with this provocative documentary on the “Ozploitation” flicks of the 1970s and ’80s. Filmmaker Mark Hartley explores the violence, sex and nudity rampant during this period of lax restrictions. Jam-packed with film clips, poster art and international advertisements, the film also features anecdotes from numerous celebrities about this dynamic period in Australian cinema.”

Watching this film is actually what inspired me to do Ozploitation week. This is a very fun, fast-paced chronicling of Australian genre films. There are a ton of movie clips and plenty of interviews with the applicable stars, directors and film critics as well as special guest Quentin Tarantino. There is also a lot of nudity, sex, violence, and language as befits an examination of exploitation films. By a lot of nudity I mean a LOT of nudity. I lost track of the number of nude women 10 minutes into the film and quite a lot of the nudity is full frontal, both male and female.

The first portion of the documentary is called “Ockers, Knockers, Pubes & Tubes” and covers the gross out and sex comedies. These sprang up as the censorship rules were lifted when Australia’s R-rating was established. Under the R-rating, no one from 2-18 was to be admitted. For those interested, this is where the majority of the nudity is presented.

“Comatose Killers and Outback Chillers” covers the quickly burgeoning horror genre. Horror typically costs very little to make and generally ranges from profitable to extremely profitable. It is why so many independent directors start in this genre. They even mention later in Not Quite Hollywood “…but splatter is cheap”. The new Australian R rating allowed for some over-the-top horror movies, many of which are featured here.

The third part, “High Octane Disasters and Kung Fu Masters”, covers a variety of action genres from kung fu to the post-apocalyptic.  There is a mini-focus on stuntman extraordinaire Grant Page. During the 70s there weren’t many (any?) safety restrictions on what you could do on a stunt. Some of the stunts in this third part are absolutely amazing – back before special effects took over. There are numerous car and motorcycle crashes as well as many scenes of people really being set on fire.

They also cover Australia’s biggest crossover hit, Mad Max in this section. Besides putting Mel Gibson on the map, Mad Max was the first (only?) of the Ozploitation movies to cross over to mainstream cinema. They don’t mention the sequels which is just as well as they definitely aren’t as edgy as the original.

Overall the documentary has an excellent fast-paced flow and a good balance between interviews and clips. I highly recommend it for genre fans. I especially liked how they played even more interviews as they rolled the credits. The only drawback was that there was a little too much of uber-fanboy Quentin Tarantino

Netflix has enough of these Ozploitation films available for instant play that I’ve devoted this whole week to them (although I’ll try to spare my wife from having to watch them).

People watch: While the whole film is nothing but people watching look for scream queen Jaime Lee Curtis in a brief interview and a scene from Road Games and a very young Nicole Kidman (not interviewed) in BMX Bandits.

From Dusk Till Dawn

Prior to sending up exploitation films with Grindhouse, Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino filmed a vampire exploitation film called From Dusk Till Dawn. This movie is available on instant Netflix. The two sequels are not available but you aren’t missing much as Rodriguez didn’t direct the sequels and Tarantino didn’t write them.

From Dusk Till Dawn

WATCH: From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) – “Robbers-on-the-lam Seth (George Clooney) and Richard Gecko (Quentin Tarantino) take an ex-preacher (Harvey Keitel) and his kids hostage. On a race to the Mexican border, they rendezvous at a cantina, not knowing the owners and clientele are bloodthirsty vampires. That’s when director Robert Rodriguez (Desperado) abruptly switches from hostage drama to tongue-in-cheek, vampiric melee, creating a blood-stained ode to 1960s Mexican horror movies.”

This is a rude, crude and violent tale as might be expected from Tarantino and Rodriguez. Quentin Tarantino overacts as always but it comes off well here as do George Clooney and Harvey Keitel in more restrained performances. It takes a good long while for the vampires to show up but once they do, it’s a non-stop thrill ride. There are small, fun over-the-top performances from the lovely Salma Hayek, Danny Trejo, make-up wizard Tom Savini, and Fred “The Hammer” Williamson. The special effects are lavish and over-the-top and they take a page from the Evil Dead book and use green blood to help with the ratings board.

People watchers: look for cameos by John Saxon and makeup artists Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger and a small role by Michael Parks as Earl McGraw (a role he repeats in Kill Bill and both parts of Grindhouse).