Blade Runner (The Final Cut): A retired replicant hunter (aka a Blade Runner) must return to track down four fugitive android impostors in 2019 Los Angeles. It’s unbelievable to think that this was released in 1982 as everything about it looks and feels like a ‘modern’ movie: it’s still breathtaking, brimming with scenes and imagery that are nothing short of pure spectacle. Almost every shot is striking; and the scale/intricacy of the sets & worldbuilding is unbelievable. Despite all of this, Ridley isn’t above some tremendously naff product placement: Coca Cola billboards, Budweiser signage, Atari holograms, and a final fight illuminated by a humongous neon TDK sign… classy! There’s also a questionable sex scene and dubious mis-use of midget actors – to give the film a little edge and distraction. If imitation truly is the sincerest form of flattery; you know that Blade Runner is a top-drawer sci-fi, as the future-metropolis aesthetics and theme of ‘what makes us human’ are echo through pretty much every subsequent Sci-Fi classic: Ghost in the Shell, The Fifth Element, Minority Report, The Matrix, Dark City, Total Recall, Brazil, Looper, Akira, Ex Machina… the list is endless. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the starting point for the movie (Philip K. Dick’s “Do Androids Dear of Electric Sheep?” is a SF masterpiece). Overall, Blade Runner is a parodically boilerplate pulp/noir story; yet the world created & proto “cinema du look” style paired with the outstanding source material & sci-fi twists, propel this film into classic territory.
Surf Nazis Must Die: after an earthquake lays California to waste its beaches become overrun by feuding surfer factions; the meanest of which are the surf Nazis – but when they kill the wrong man, his grandmother wages a one-OAP-War against the them. If you think that plot sounds terrible, wait ‘til you see the film. Several scenes try to live up to the title by attempting to be outrageous – flippant racism and the single most gratuitous softcore boobs in B movie history – but it comes across as lazy. This is absolutely crammed with bad script, bad acting, bad editing, bad plot, bad ‘action’, and completely devoid of gore… congratulations, you’ve taken all of the elements of a classic B/Cult movie, yet made something that barely qualifies as watchable. For an 83 minute film, at least 20 mins could be cut and not affect the ‘story’. It also looks and feels like it was made for $50. My biggest question is that when the Nazis can dispose of gangs of badass bikers, agile Parkour, Deadly Ninjas and Speedy Skaters – yet they struggle with one vigilante granny?!!? Given the reputation and notoriety of a 28-year old B-Movie that’s stuck around for the duration, I was expecting so much more. Goes to show how much a wild title and sweet poster can do for a movie. A terrible, lazy, attempt at shoxploitation; where the only shock is how it even got a release.
You should not be allowed to make shit films with such awesome titles!
Anvil! The Story of Anvil: follows two friends who have been gigging together since 1978, and their continual struggle to re-emerge on the global rock scene. Don’t be fooled – or put off – by the heavy meal angle; the documentary is focused on their heart-warming dedication to the band, and mostly behind the scenes. Front man ‘Lips’ is an absolute legend of a personality; such a nice guy (running around the festivals meeting his heroes) – and sounds uncannily like Paul Giamatti. You end up feeling a bit sorry for his bandmate Rob who gets a raw deal and winds up as a punch bag / door mat. What Anvil! does best is capture the trials and tribs of a DIY tour – and band life in general – very well; the festivals, crummy venues, playing live, disappointing crowds, pay squabbles, transport chaos, emotions, recording… it’s all there, and it’s all raw – down to the drunk guy drinking beer through his nose. The only minor point from me is that some shots and scenes feel played just for documentary; although only the initial setup, there’s clearly no script. I didn’t realise how engaged I was until the very end, where I wept a few tears of joy… like a totally non-rock ‘n’ roll pussy. The Story of Anvil is the most upbeat of tragedies: you see these guys grinding away at shitty day jobs only to fund their gigs and albums; and in that way, this is one of the most universally inspirational stories you’ll ever see. Must-see documentary.
Grosse Pointe Blank: Follows a hitman going through a midlife crisis as he heads back home for a big job and school reunion. This was supposed to be a dark comedy but the only black part was Martin Blank’s clothes; the tone was more mawkish than anything else. Minnie Driver was pretty terrible, Cusack is just plain old Cusack and none of the others are particularly noteworthy. There’s a massive (but predictable) soundtrack that they must have spent a lot of the budget on. It pokes a lot of fun at the technology that appeared in 1980’s films although the final message is that too much TV is bad for you. Not a whole lot more to say really. This is probably the finest example of an entire film being drawn out around a single pun – what’s worse is that it adds absolutely nothing to the film! Despite everything that happens it just ends up feeling bland and absurd.
The Running Man: Starring Arnie, a dose of all-american athletes like Jesse “The Body” Ventura, and some great eye candy in María Alonso – this flick is set in an ultra-oppressive state, where the iron-fisted state censor, control and manipulate everything. There’s loads of solid action, blood and guts but there’s more to this than meets the eye; it’s peppered with serious messages about America’s consumption of everything, from commercial products to brutal violence. Although it was made in the 1980s, the bleak future it paints appears to be coming truer and truer every day. Quintessential 1980s and Arnie viewing with many of his best one-liners.