Category Archives: Films

The Confusing Case of The Counsel(l)or

Today I will talk about the 2013 film The Counselor.

So picture this, it’s early 2013(I imagine), and I am now at a better college, but still going through the motions in life with no gusto or direction. Ridley Scott is Ridley Scott. In terms of his more modern films I had seen Body of Lies and Prometheus in theaters and enjoyed many of his other works both back then and more so recently. Honestly though I didn’t like Prometheus too much, but it did have some great visuals. So I keep tabs on what he is doing and along comes the trailer for The Counselor:

Now this trailer is really something. I find myself watching it again and again in the months leading up to the film. Interestingly the trailer details the entire fucking plot start to finish, along with some of the best bits of dialogue. Quotes I still enjoy to this day; “Money problems are serious problems” and “this world you have created, will also cease to exist.” I am not a fan of that AWOLNATION song but in this trailer it fits shockingly well. The trailer shows you a high budgeted drama from legendary director Ridley Scott, based on a script written by Cormac fucking Mcarthy. I once read somewhere he wrote it in the 80’s, but it’s irrelvelent. Then look at the cast, Michael Fassbender, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Brad Pitt, and Javier Bardem. (In the film more famous actors are revealed in smaller roles. ) So on paper and in this trailer you have a home run but the movie was panned to hell by critics and when I saw it I didn’t know how I felt. I felt something kind of duped maybe, by the aforementioned trailer. Maybe I watched it too many times?

The film was a long and slow watch. The film could have been a stage play, the true art is found in all the dialogue and to a lesser extent the actors and sets. The story is merely a cover or cheap plot device to keep things moving. The plot follows a wealthy lawyer with the world in his hands, he ventures down a dead end path for unknown reasons. It doesn’t speak to reason that a lawyer who drives a Bentley, is engaged to Penelope Cruz would require anymore. It’s either the excitement of doing the crime or the never ending pursuit of wealth. It is however mentioned even in the trailer that a law degree is a “license to steal.” Perhaps white collar crime was not enough for him. So spoiler alert, his life falls apart when his fiancee is kidnapped, murdered and he sees it on a snuff film in Mexico. He survives, everyone else does not except Cameron Diaz’ character. I also read her dialogue was all redone because her Jamaican? accent just didn’t work.

After I saw it once or twice I had to dig deeper, however I could. A direct reference is made to another film I had not seen. Brad Pitt’s character Westray warns the Counselor before they commit to this crime:

“Maybe I should tell you what Mickey Rourke told what’s-his-face? That’s my recommendation anyway, Counselor. Don’t do it. “

Counselor responds quoting the film, “this arson is a serious crime”.

I google that line and find out about Body Heat. I watched it and it’s a pretty good thriller. This movie owes a lot to Body Heat and a direct quote I think is a pretty good way to provide credit. I did start to understand a bit more at this point, the stories are largely the same. Two successful square middle age men both suffer due to a Temptress.

The film also features a Brough Superior SS 100 in the background of one scene which is nuts. It’s a $200,000 motorcycle, and we all know what happens to the Ferrari California, I wonder who owns that vehicle at this moment in time?

Later a unrated extended cut was released. I quickly saw it as I thought ” ah ha!” This will explain it, and also I was more baffled than before, even more brazen and bizarre dialogue. Some of these exchanges are a bit “uneasy and nervewracking”.

Also before the film was released there was a lot of promo and marketing. One piece was some very bizarre one minute dream like scenes/exchanges seemingly shot on set. I found it:

After viewing that clip again, I realize it is entirely possible that it takes place within the “film universe.” The mind reading part is quite interesting, as is the police radio noises at the end. Foreshadowing……..

Even after writing all this my thoughts are far from complete and definitive on this matter. I will insist however that the trailer and marketing of this film are just as baffling as it’s true themes. It really is a great film, but watch it with no expectations or understandings of what the fuck it is and you might get it, or not who knows. Also while “researching” this I noticed in the UK it was released as The Counsellor with two lls, neat.

Gary Rules.

Over The Edge

This post has been spurred by my recent awesome chance to watch a screening of 1979’s Over The Edge, directed by Jonathan Kaplan and written by Tim Hunter! It was screened at the Music Box by the Chicago Film Society

I am very grateful I got to see it! But let’s start at the beginning. I’m almost positive I heard about this movie in my tween years when I was obsessed with Nirvana and what not. I know I rented it off Netflix and copied it. I loved it when I saw it, soundtrack was killer, and I quickly showed it to a couple of my friends at the time. I think I was probably 15/16, definitely in High School. The film takes a look at some young kids growing up in a “planned community” with not much to do but drugs and alcohol and whatnot. I’m pretty sure I had seen Kids already or at a similar time and this was like holy shit, I almost feel normal. High School was mostly talking about music and drugs, and how to get them. The majority of it was talking about how we knew nothing at all but were looking for something. Planning the weekends and after school potential escapades that were usually just doing anything we could think of or going to movies and concerts when possible. I feel like an old man now, but many of those problems never left.

It was very cool to see Tim Hunter speak about the film. Apparently the film screened was his own personal 35mm print. Whoever owns the master have refused to make a modern digital transfer. I was also geeking out because this is the man that directed River’s Edge and the Saint of Fort Washington. I got a chance to meet him after the screening, and while I should have brought my copies of the Over The Edge Soundtrack for him to sign, I brought River’s Edge on Blu-ray. I asked him how a Wipers’ song(Let Me Know) ended up on the soundtrack. Loving the Wipers, I knew they were not a very commercial band in that sense(i.e. wouldn’t want a tv show or movie using their song). But he told me Enigma / Metal Blade Records gave him carte blanche to everything on their label. He listened to it all and settled on some great choices including Slayer,Agent Orange, and Burning Spear. I may have wrote this before but my mind wanted to believe it was Dennis Hopper’s insistence that led to the Wipers song. I also told him I liked The Saint of Fort Washington ever since I saw it as a kid. He asked if it still held up and I said yes it does! He then mentioned that film essentially ended his Hollywood career. Interesting how that also reunited him with Matt Dillon. I am very thankful for this opportunity.

Overall it was amazing to see Over The Edge on film, and I can’t believe I got to meet Tim Hunter himself. It was a good day.

P.S. I was watching the show Mrs.Fletcher currently on HBO and the other night the Wipers’ song Is This Real? played over the credits! It was super random and I can’t believe it. But now I know of two instances of Wipers’ music on TV and film.

Liquid Sky

Where to begin about Liquid Sky……

Years ago I found some list of lesser known cult/underground horror/whatever films and Liquid Sky was somewhere on the list. I read the brief description and saw the poster and was very intrigued. I mean look at this fucking poster:

This is the only film on that list I set out to watch and couldn’t find a real copy quickly.  Some kind soul uploaded a VHS rip to youtube. I watched it with a friend one night and FUCK! What a goddamn amazing  movie. How did anyone pull this off and get it made?????

It’s shot in Manhattan in the early 80’s starring Anne Carlisle in a dual role. I won’t waste much time attempting to explain the plot but it involves models, drug addicts, rapists, aliens, a German guy, and much more. The aesthetic/ makeup/ music/ and sets are all truly incredible and a visual feast. I urge anyone to find and watch this film. After I watched it I became quite obsessed. Like HOW did anyone get a small amount of money, come up with this idea and script, and finally film and release it! It seemed like something that shouldn’t exist which is what interested me. It was too fucking cool to have actually been made basically.

Limited information existed on the internet but I found out a bit about the director and some actors. I was still left with more questions concerning the conception and execution of this film. I mean where was it filmed precisely? How many people did the costumes and makeup!? Who wrote “Me and My Rhythm Box”??? The list went on…. it was just too cool. I bought the novelization, written by Anne Carlisle as well. It’s a good read and gives you more background about the main characters including the “rich cunt from Connecticut”. I also find an interview with the director Slava Tsukerman in an old issue of Heavy Metal, I posted scans HERE. I’m still looking for more background and interviews with ANYONE involved in the production.

Still the film intrigues me so, I urge you to find it and watch it.

Last year I ventured to Seattle, as a quick Nirvana and First Blood pilgrimage. The first record store I went to I found absolutely nothing but then just sitting in some sort of “special new arrivals” section I found the fucking soundtrack! I could have ordered this at some point but when you run across things you are not even thinking about it is a real rush. I was a bit boggled but then remembered more people have seen this movie than I thought. It was just long before my time.

I recently was able to see the film in theaters are it was quite the treat. I wish I could live in a Liquid Sky like world, for better or worse.

Me and my rhythm box out~

Liquid Sky: Interview With Director Slava Tsukerman In Heavy Metal Magazine

So I will write a longer “piece” on the amazing film Liquid Sky in the future. Let’s just saw I came across on some list of weird movies and I didn’t need to see any more after I watched this one. I became and still am pretty obsessed with this movie. I bought the July 1984 issue of Heavy Metal magazine because it featured an interview the director Slava Tsukerman. I was desperate( and still am) to learn anything and everything about this film and it’s production. So I finally scanned the interview in case anyone else wants a small bit of insight.

Enjoy.

Gary

Turkish Delight: Rutger Hauer and Paul Verhoeven’s Lovely Exposition

Turkish Delight is the second film directed by the accomplished Paul Verhoeven. Released in 1973 it stars a young Rutger Hauer, a personal favorite, and the gorgeous Monique van de Ven. The couple’s entire relationship unfolds before the viewer,set in the Netherlands. Rutger plays a real sex fiend whom finally finds his raison d^etre. Much like The French Lieutenant’s Woman, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and maybe even The Notebook?(never seen it), It’s about that young romance you live for despite life’s inhibitions, warnings, and short nature. I once saw a Sydney Pollock interview where he claimed the “happy couple” moments were the hardest to film vs. before and after the relationship(referring to The Way We Were). This film walks a fine line of the before, after, and during.

The interesting symbols I noticed, whenever Rutger rides his bike anywhere he literally hops off it and lets it crash into something, every time! Similar to my gab about The French Lieutenant’s Woman. Both characters are in constant rushes to depart their vehicles early. Here Rutger’s character is young and very “fast” and “over the top”. With women and his interactions, he seems to throw caution to the wind and act rather than dwell in the consequences. To this extent he finds the love of his life, however nothing holds forever. The other symbol I noticed was maggots. He is criticized at work for sculpting maggots into a biblical scene, to be more accurate. Second he grabs his wife flowers  and it is shown they were holding maggots. They fall on her chest. Finally maggots can be scene at his disgusting apartment. Maybe the maggots that exist on real life and in his mind in his own sense of lingering death. Death is all around no need to fake it. Maggots mostly eat dead things. Draw your own conclusions.

In short it was a really great film, two young attractive people in love is a beautiful thing. But life is short, and things fall apart. It’s what they do, it’s the second law of thermodynamics. Watch if while you can, and know it while you have it. I really liked films like this when I was aged somewhere from 12 to 19. I never really had a close relationship with a girl prior to my early 20s, I was totally a lonely “late-bloomer”. I don’t know if the relationship aspects of films gave me hope or showed me the beauty of life, but let’s just say some set the bar high. It was probably escapism on my part. But I digress. Check out this film.

Gary

1982 Yamaha XT 250

So a guy I knew was selling a 1982 Yamaha XT 250 in a sorry state. He got in because it came with another bike, an RM minibike or something. Being such a fan of the film First Blood(as you can see from my other post), I bought it despite the sorry state it came in. The problems he noted were broken clutch perch and incorrect rear wheel. I gave him $150. Well several years later and I FINALLY got the damn thing running. Over this time I slowly and slowly fixed and ordered the parts I could. I even picked up a spare parts bike for about 120$ a few years ago.

I bought a new rear wheel, which made me sorry for my mailman because the shipper literally saran wrapped the hell outta the damn thing and slapped a sticker on it. I bought a new sprocket, chain, clutch perch,clutch lever, countless bolts, and more over time. The carburetor was a nightmare I will condense here.

The bike had compression but with a new battery and plug I had spark but not gas. I pulled the carb off and noticed a piece near the bottom accelerator pump was broken. This carb is overly complex. The 1980 First Generation XT 250 used a simpler carb. The carb I have has this “accelerator pump” type device add on. It was a feature from 1981-1983 on the XT 250. The 1984 250 Carb and bike were very different. So make note of this unique carb it is tricky to find at all, let alone a working one will still bring a few hundred dollars.

Luckily I first found a junk carb for parts on ebay for 40$. I was able to replace the broken part and try it again. No luck the bike never fired and I got tired of kicking the bike over dozens of times to no avail. In the meantime I fixed other stuff, repainted the exhaust, and little things like made sure the brakes work and fixing the clutch cable. A few years later I finally bite the bullet and spent 80$ for a complete carb rehaul kit, this included almost all the gaskets and jets needed to rebuild the carb. So I took apart both carbs and cleaned the shit out of them. I used the best parts and the kid to make one good carb. After all this work still fucking nothing, no “pop” it didn’t even want to start. After spraying some carb cleaner in the cylinder the bike ran for a few seconds, so the problem was still the carb.

I’m no expert mechanic but through trial and error and my old man’s wisdom I have a basic understanding of how a bike works. After this I just kept watching ebay for a spare carb. They would sometimes pop up for about 200$ and sell. Eventually one was up for 250$, they included a video of the bike running before they took it apart, so this should be “plug and play”. I bit the bullet and paid more than the price of the bike for it. Upon further inspection of it, it was missing a choke lever and had an extra hole in one side which puzzled me.

I finally put it on my bike with some fresh gas. I gave it some more kicks and I felt maybe a little more kickback but no signs of life whatsoever. So after a deep sigh I was about to give up and maybe try again a few days later. With some carb cleaner in the cylinder we tried again. Nothing at first at all, which was weird. Then somewhere around the sixth kick it was brought to life, I assumed it would die in a few seconds but this “priming” actually worked and it kept going! Big relief this was, since if this didn’t work I was ready to pay someone to take this shit from me on Craigslist. Now my only hope is the clutch works and it goes through all the gears. Once this bike is settled, I’ll finally have a dirt bike, or rather THE bike from First Blood. Did I mention how much I like that film?

 

Gary

Last Year at Marienbad

So I finally got around to seeing this film and it was quite a sight. It’s difficult for me to sit down, put down distractions and sit through a film of almost any length at this point. I’m sure I don’t have ADD, if that is a real thing, but it remains hard. Computers and smartphones and all that “social media” have really run amok on my brain and focus. I suppose it is entirely my fault and I don’t blame them, but alas literally doing anything anymore is getting harder. I’m glad I dumped Facebook a few years ago but I still scrape reddit as my goto distraction. Why? I really don’t know. I should probably work on being more “disconnected” with this crap and actually doing stuff, any stuff!

I used to spend more time listening to (new to me) music, watching films and spending tons of time online in search of more and more. This was probably 2002-2008. I graduated High School in 2008 and I probably have been losing focus ever since. I first heard of Marienbad when Criterion released it and later on when it went OOP and seemed like I could never afford. The few screenshots and reviews I read intrigued me and I totally bookmarked the film on my mental to view list. It was only a few months ago I finally saw it.

It definitely drew me in and by the end I was a bit less concerned with phone and more so with what was going to happen for the finale. It’s a love story between two possibly reuniting lovers and nothing is a certainty really. The film plays very dream like and it was left very open for interpretation in regards to what the characters reveal and what reality may exist inside this film. Memories fade, corrupt, and even wish themselves into your brain. Not only that obviously every eye has a different story or memory to tell.  The close moments in the film are very well placed and much of this film teases you, like love in reality. Delphine Seyrig looks absolutely stunning in this film in every sense of the word. Her wardrobe and style throughout keep you coming back much like the main character. Literally everything else in the world is worthless upon sight of her. I knew why this guy keeps hounding her.

But in the end we don’t really know. Much like how anyone stands in the future, who knows? The point is it doesn’t matter the thrill of the ride was far more satisfying and life inducing then anything. The mere thought of having this woman, even on credit, is enough to silence all thoughts and drive someone beyond. But in the end you’re probably old and alone. I lived once but that is long behind me.

The French Lieutenant’s Woman

meryl-streep-2

I recently caught the start of this movie on some dismal cable tv movie channel and was intrigued. I then did laundry, later I sat down when it was on again and watched the whole film. Similar to my ppost of Lilya I will mostly focus on one small bit of the film I caught.

In regards to the film I thoroughly enjoyed it and the excellent performances by Merryl Streep and Jeremy Irons leaves no questions, this is a classic. A couple stories of two lovers who spend more time in misery over the short time they DID have together. Well pretty much. I think that happens in life quite a bit, perhaps why it’s labeled a post-modern film, who knows. Sydney Pollack once remarked about how difficult filming the “happy times” in a doomed love story. The begining is easy as is the breakup, the tranquil and exciting “heart” of the romance is a challenge to leave on film. This film is no exception.

Anyway Jeremy Irons’ characters are both successful English men in two time periods. Be it cab, car, or train in either timeline he always refuses to depart when the transport stops moving. Watch the film, he ALWAYS gets off the carriage, train, or car before it stops moving.

This means to me his character can’t wait for anything. He wants it all now and then it quickly departs. He can’t stand still alone. He is in a rush for the woman he desires and can’t wait the second for the transport to come to a proper hault. I wonder why he is in such a hurry to seek love and happiness yet the sooner he achieves something like it, the sooner he is left in misery albeit with his wife and kids…….. Sometimes the best laid accidents were never meant.

 

In closing watch this film. It’s very good.

Lilya 4-Ever

05

 

 

 

 

It had been referred to be 10 years ago by a classmate in high school. I had been Netflix friends with this individual. 2005. Back when Netflix was mail only. I quickly rented it and copied it. I didn’t even know but I’d already seen the director’s first film and liked it. Fucking Amal, the title attracted me and the good reviews shortly after it came out. I still love that movie. I guess I am a sucker for certain romances caught on film. Now consider this a spoiler filled mini review focusing on only one aspect. A symbol/theme.

Now to this day I am still terrible at identifying symbols in music, film, literature, and art. I haven’t forgotten the tools from High School and college especially but unless forced to identify symbols they are usually immediately lost on me, or never found. However, after watching Lilya one of the thing’s that hit me in the face was the McDonald’s symbolism.

In the film Lilya is treated to McDonald’s food and ice cream first by the man whom traffics her to Sweden by posing as a romantic interest. I recall the famous photograph of 100’s of Russians lined up in 1990 to try McDonald’s when it first opened in Russia. Fast food was a treat and a curiosity in the former Soviet Union, thanks to American capitalism and business tact. In the beginning of the film she is believed to be going to America with her Mother and boyfriend but she is quickly left to rot in the former Soviet Union, with no money and support.

Second after Lilya is taken captive in Sweden she cleans the apartment she is held prisoner in. A large McDonald’s bag and leftovers are among the items she cleans. The garbage remains belonging to the prisoner whom no longer lives there. A small burger join that started in America reaches desolate Russia and Sweden the same. You don’t get a chance to escape McDonald’s.

After Lilya is finished with her “customers” she is taken to eat through the drive through at McDonalds. Her “reward” for making money for the piece of human garbage who keeps her prisoner and sells her body to sick old fucks. Basically forced to eat McDonald’s because it’s fast,convenient, and cheap for that dirty Swede. Thanks to the American capitalist “give me convenience or give me death” ideology. They can thank the US later for the concept of drive-thru.

Three instances, a symbol I finally noticed and still think about. The McDonald’s is America, capitalism, freedom and a future. America would be a future with hope. Lilya’s only options to eat, as stated by her Aunt are to “spread her legs in town”. She does this without a complaint. A seemingly normal boyfriend leads to her becoming a forced sex slave. The freedom and globalization of America just goes to show it remains out of reach. You can taste American style food but you can’t live there. Instead it will taunt you and offer a reminder of useless hope that freedom is out there, but untouchable. You can taste America but you will never live it. It’s all the more worse when you learn the film was based on a true instance of events.