We’re back with another mad as hell edition of CineFusion, FC’s own weekly in-blog newsletter that we’re using to compile some of the cool film related things (past, present and future) that give us pleasure. This week’s furious highlights include: blaxploitation badasses, a furious independent filmmaker, a science teacher turned drug mastermind and some wily grifters.
FROM THE TARANTINO ARCHIVES:
Lynn Hirschberg of the New York Times talks with Quentin and Robert Rodriguez about GRINDHOUSE (64 Min) In this hour long interview we get to hear more about the origin of the 2007 double feature project as well as thoughts about working in the film industry from the two lauded filmmaker/friends.
SPAGHETTI BEST: The magnificent Franco Nero is at his high falutin best as Sergei Kowalski aka The Pollock in Sergio Corbucci’s 1968 Zapata Western masterpiece: The Mercenary
Two bounty hunters make their way across the snowy landscape. One was a slave, and the other is a German and former dentist. They are Django (Jamie Foxx) and Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) the main characters in Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming Western (or Southern to be more precise) epic adventure DJANGO UNCHAINED. Excited doesn’t quite describe our feelings for this film. Giddy? That’s a slightly better description. You can view more visually extravagant images from the movie now at THE QUENTIN TARANTINO ARCHIVES!
Busting The Mob: The Making of Donnie Brasco One of our top favorite crime films is Mike Newell’s Donnie Brasco (1997). It is based on the true story of Joe Pistone an FBI agent who went undercover in the 70s to help bring down the New York Mob. Johnny Depp portrays Pistone a man whose main strength is his cool as ice demeanor when under pressure. Pistone soon infiltrates the underworld by becoming friends with an older mafioso, “Lefty” Ruggiero (Al Pacino). Ruggiero takes Pistone (who uses the fake name Donnie Brasco) under his wing and soon the young police detective finds himself moving up the ranks in the organized crime world. Director Mike Newell, who was not a veteran of these kinds of stories that directors like Martin Scorsese are best known for, did a tremendous job and spun a very entertaining tale. This modern classic also boasts a supporting cast of excellent actors like Michael Madsen, James Russo, Bruno Kirby and Paul Giamatti. The making of documentary above features interviews with the cast and crew and is a must see for fans of the movie!
In the Summer of 82 there were two films which were released that I can still remember me and my young friends were really excited about. One of them was Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan, which I recall just loving it because of Ricardo Montalban’s Shakespearan like performance as the evil space villain. The second film that we were buzzing about and later watched often was Rocky III. For me this is the movie that introduced me to Sylvester Stallone as an action star. The new Mondo poster above designed by Jay Shaw completely captures the spirit of the film whose catchphrase was “Eye of The Tiger”. It’s easily one of the most furious (and ferocious) images I’ve seen created for a movie poster!
FURIOUS FILMMAKERS: JOHN CASSAVETES
The Making of HUSBANDS (47 Min) After first seeing the film Faces (1968) several years ago, I instantly became a fan of Filmmaker John Cassavetes and immediately began searching for his other works. There was something I got from his movies that I hadn’t experienced before and I was deeply moved by them. They possessed a vibrancy that I felt (and often feel) is missing from most films these days. Everything is so watered down but Cassavetes films pulsed with fierce energy as he made stories about everyday people that were exciting and unique. Director Sam Fuller once used the word “heart” to describe the essence of Cassavetes films. What was so special to me was how he created entertaining stories from showing the joy of living and loving through both humor and desperation and did it with an independent bravado.
The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing (1973, Dir: Richard C, Sarafian) Burt Reynolds stars as Jay Grobart, an outlaw who finds one of his gang (Bo Hopkins) has kidnapped an upper class woman named Katherine Crocker (Sarah Miles) that abandoned her husband and is drifting aimlessly through the southwest. Grobart and his gang, including the ornery thug Dawes (Jack Warden) decide to kidnap her as they try to evade the law out to get them led by Officer Lapchance (Lee J Cobb) and Katherine’s estranged, vengeful husband (George Hamilton). While the film follows a typical “outlaws on the run” plot at first there is much more going on as the story unfolds. This is one of Reynolds’ most understated performances and he really is exceptional as Grobart, a man who has a sordid past he’s trying to come to grips with. If you love movies like Jeremiah Johnson or Two Mules For Sister Sara, you’ll enjoy this film. Trivia: Reynolds and Bo Hopkins had done White Lightning together the same year while Lee J. Cobb and Jack Warden had co-starred in Sidney Lumet’s directorial debut 12 Angry Men.
Al Capone (1959, Dir: Richard Wilson) In this 50′s crackerjack crime biography, Rod Steiger plays the infamous scarfaced gangster who ran the underworld rackets of Chicago in the 1920s and 30s. The story follows a young Capone when he began working as a bouncer in a bar through to his urging of friend/underboss Johnny Torrio to get rid of his uncle, the head of the underworld Big Jim Collisimo after which Torrio and Capone took over the criminal organization. This was followed by a mob war with rivals led by Dini O’Banion and his Irish/Jewish minion. Capone also falls in love with the widow of one of his victims which creates even more explosive melodrama. Steiger, who came from a specific style of method acting brings a true energy and fervor to his portrayal of the mob kingpin turning him into more than just the standard “bad guy”. Steiger made Capone a multifaceted character, one of whom you certainly won’t pity but can understand and be entertained by for his toughness. Trivia: Rod Steiger had originally not wanted to play this role but it later became his favorite performance out of all his work. Co-starring Martin Balsam.
Demon Seed (1977, Dir: Donald Cammell) - Based on the novel by Dean Koontz, this is a film about a super computer with artificial intelligence called the Proteus IV created by Dr Alex Harris (Fritz Weaver). Similar to the HAL 9000 in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, the machine (voiced by Robert Vaughn) has a desire to take control, although in this story its nothing to do with something like world domination. It simply wishes to have a child with its creator’s wife Susan (Julie Christie). After impregnating Susan, the Proteus IV later takes on a physical form of a kind of giant floating rubix cube and attacks one of Harris’ protege’s Walter (Gerrit Graham) who tries to destroy it after discovering Susan being held captive in her home by the ungodly machine. Although the movie deals with moments of horror, it isn’t shot in an overly graphic way, in fact most of the more violent scenes are implied through the terse editing and subtle visuals. This is a very intriguing entry in the sci fi-horror subgenre that contains creative direction, acting and special FX.
Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974, Dir: Sam Peckinpah) After the failure of his 1973 Western Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid, Peckinpah directed this tequila soaked tale of Benny (Warren Oates) an American expatriate living South of The Border who takes on the job of retrieving the head of a gigolo named Alfredo Garcia. Garcia is wanted by crimelord “El Jefe” (Emilio Fernandez) for getting his daughter pregnant and leaving her flat. Benny packs up his car and decides to bring his lover Elita (Isla Vega) a prostitute with him on the journey. On the adventure he runs into a myriad of obstacles including rowdy bikers and a gang of men who are trying to get the severed head to “El Jefe” before him. One of the more darker, nihilistic works by Peckinpah. The story goes that Warren Oates was essentially playing his role through an imitation of Peckinpah (the director himself wasn’t aware of this at the time). According to Sam Peckinpah this was his only film that was released as intended without studio interference. Sadly, it was another commercial failure upon its release but over the years has come to be a cult classic and re-evaluated as one of Peckinpah’s most visceral and personal works.
Breaking Bad: The Fourth Season For someone who doesn’t regularly watch TV much anymore, I was completely surprised when I got caught up in the story of Walter White (Bryan Cranston) a brainy science teacher from Alberquerque, New Mexico who finds out he has cancer. Afraid that he will die and leave his family without anything to live on, White has to come up with some way to get some quick cash. His idea appears in the form of an old student of his, Jessie (Aaron Paul) who he runs into one day while on a ridealong with his brother in law, a DEA agent. It turns out Jessie is a successful drug dealer and Walter decides to make a proposition to the young punk. He will offer his exquisite knowledge of chemicals to create a new kind of super meth and turn Jessie’s current operation into something extraordinary in exchange for a cut of the money they make. This is just the beginning of what becomes an engrossing adventure with White taking on a new edgy persona as the mysterious drug mastermind known as “Heisenberg”. Breaking Bad is the best written and acted TV series I’ve seen since The Sopranos and I can’t wait for Season Five! BUY BLU RAY
The Sting (1973, Dir: George Roy Hill) In their second collaboration following Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid (1969), Director Hill, along with actors Paul Newman and Robert Redford decided to tell another tale about two outlaws, this time set in Depression era Chicago of the 1930s. Johnny Hooker (Redford) is a young grifter that lives on the edge. Together with his friend Luther (Robert Earl Jones) a veteran flim flam man, the two make a big score after pulling a scam on some schmuck. What they don’t realize is that the money they jacked belongs to a feared crime boss named Doyle Lonegan (Robert Shaw). The word soon gets out that two low life grifters were behind the robbery and Lonegan sends a hitman to kill them but only Luther (who has decided to retire from criminal life) gets knocked off. Seeking revenge, Hooker goes to Luther’s old friend Henry Gondorf (Newman), and the two set up an epic sting with the help of a gang of colorful characters that want to help get them get payback for Luther. The score by Marvin Hamlisch is wonderful, as he covers classic ragtime music by Scott Joplin featuring The Entertainer, which the main theme of the film. The Sting is an American cinema classic. Co-starring Ray Walston, Charles Durning, Dana Elcar, Jack Kehoe, Harold Gould and Eileen Brennan. BUY BLU RAY – READ FULL REVIEW
The Grapes of Wrath (1940, Dir: John Ford) Based on the best selling book by John Steinbeck, this American classic stars Henry Fonda as Tom Joad, an ex-con who returns to his family’s Oklahoma Dust Bowl farm only to find that the government is evicting them as well as many of his ‘down on their luck’ neighbors. The Joad clan decides to pick up and move to California the promised land to start over again. Troubles soon arise when they get stuck working at a fruit picker camp and must live in a cramped cabin eating scraps. To make things worse, the locals resent the poor pickers and give them a hard time seeing them as unwanted outsiders. Meanwhile Tom decides to join other weary folks as they spread word of an organized labor movement to change their situation for the better. The Grapes of Wrath is a timeless story about the American spirit and endeavoring to perservere. Co-starring Jane Darwell, Russell Simpson and John Carradine. BUY BLU RAY
COMING SOON TO A THEATER NEAR YOU
Holy Motors (Directed by Leo Carax)
I really don’t know much about this film but after reading the extremely enthusiastic review by AICN’s Quint (which can be found HERE) in which he proclaims it the best film at Cannes, I’m obviously really interested in seeing it. The basic structure sounds sort of similar to David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis (a man who drives around in a car) but I’m sure that’s where the connection ends.
Official Synopsis: From dawn to dusk, a few hours in the life of Monsieur Oscar, a shadowy character who journeys from one life to the next. He is, in turn, captain of industry, assassin, beggar, monster, family man…He seems to be playing roles, plunging headlong into each part – but where are the cameras? Monsieur Oscar is alone, accompanied only by Céline, the slender blonde woman behind the wheel of the vast engine that transports him through and around Paris. He’s like a conscientious assassin moving from hit to hit. In pursuit of the beautiful gesture, the mysterious driving force, the women and the ghosts of past lives. But where is his true home, his family, his rest?
Two new promotional banners for The Dark Knight Rises: BAT-TASTIC!
Until next time: Stay Furious!