Category Archives: Blog

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~

Small Winter Project: 1977 Triumph Bonneville T140V Side Covers

So my Triumph broke down in the middle of summer. I was riding to work on Lake Shore Drive, trying to hit the ton as soon as I got on. Next thing I know my bike dies. I coast to the few feet of “shoulder” that exists on a bridge on Lake Shore Drive. I have no electronics at all and I come to notice my left spark plug loose. If it wasn’t so hot I could have taken it out by hand. This was bad. I eventually pushed by bike across four lanes and down the hill to get it on the street. I got a tow and made it to work only a few hours late. When trying to fix my bike I find the battery appears “shot”, it will not take a charge. It is pretty new and a sealed battery. I get a new battery and as soon as I connect it it pops the fuse. I find out the Zener Diode is shot and causing this. Luckily I had a spare and eventually had a running bike again.

So moving on this winter I will finally correct something about her. The side covers/air box that are currently on the bike are from an earlier Triumph. I think 70-71. Not positive but I have also been told they “seal better”. After buying random covers and parts from ebay and Swap Meets over the years I finally will get the correct 1977 Side Covers on my bike. Acquiring all these stupid little pieces actually is expensive and costly at times. but I finally have most of it, just need some more hardware. I think I will get the pieces sand blasted and painted nicely before I put them on. Here’s how the covers look now:

And Here is a mock up of the parts I have thus far. I also have badges, just waiting on some hardware. I also found some NOS of those air tubes. I have never seen a bike with those still on them, they must break easily and do absolutely nothing, but nonetheless I will install them all on my correct and redone side covers this winter.

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?



First Blood Pilgrimage

Every year I enjoy taking a vacation to see somewhere new and get out of Chicago for at least a few days. Last year I went to New Orleans and rented a motorcycle for a day. It was great. This year I chose Seattle for a mere four days, which was the most time I could get off work. I have never been anywhere near that part of the country and being a Nirvana nerd I figured it was finally time.

I’ve also always been a huge fan of First Blood after catching it on televeision when I was probably 9 years old. I’ve loved it ever since, nevermind the sequels First Blood is amazing. I have always wanted to go to the town whewre it was filmed as well. I randomly googled it after I decided I was going to Seattle and it was only 3.5 hours. Therefore I HAD to go when I was in Seattle.

My current job could offer a few days off but money was very tight. In planning the trip I had to book a very expensive last minute hotel near the UW Campus. Air fare was the cheapest part of the trip. So I arrived on something like a Monday morning I believe as my flight out of O’Hare was at like 6:00am. I landed in Seattle and first went the EMP to see the Nirvana exhibit. It was cool, next I killed some time at a record store and found the Liquid Sky Soundtrack which I’ll write about later.

The next day I didn’t do to much I walked around and noticed how things there looked the same everywhere, maybe it’s cause I stayed in a college area. I did get a nice dinner and sat next to a rich SQL programmer. I should really pickup on that because it seems spillover from San Francisco is happening in Seattle. Making the young and smart very rich in a great spot.


I wasn’t feeling all the greatest when I got to my hotel and lied down a while. When I sorta awoke I flipped through the channels and on fucking BBC America of all channels, First Blood was on! I was second guessing getting the bike the next day and riding to Hope,BC but I figured this was a sign of sorts telling me I had to go. In the morning I venture to the rental space and get the bike. Of course it’s not the one I ordered and of course a GPS is out of the question. I booked a regular Triump Bonneville but all they had for me was a goddamn Thruxton. The bike was great but not for riding on 8 hours in a day.

So with just my phone GPS I make it to the USA-Canada border. I brought my passport and they ask me to go inside,as I had an Illinois License, a motorcycle with a Florida plate, and a pretty dark face. I tell the guy I’m going to Hope cause I like the movie First Blood and he’s baffled but they let me in. Third time I’ve ever been to Canada and the other times were just the Montreal airport. The ride is great and it feels weird when I make it to Canada, So what is probably 5 hours after picking up the bike I make it to Hope,BC where First Blood was filmed. I couldn’t believe it when I pulled it around 5pm to the same spot where Rambo just firsts confronted by the Sheriff. The gas station is still there. I ride around the small town a little and grab some food. It’s quite a small, broke, little town, surrounded by amazing Mountains. It has the usual things: run-down motel, shitty diner, VFW bar, hobby store some how and not to much else.

I eat some awful food there and then realize “shit” I don’t have much money and I have another 5 hour ride back to Seattle. So I immediately head back, which sucks but I had to. I didn’t want to get lost in Canada in the night. I make it through the border again and just when I’m about an hour away I get incredibly cold and tired. The weather dropped like a rock and when going 80 on an unlit deserted two lane blacktop, a lot of worries hit my mind. One rock and I’d be on the pavement and no one would see me. I find a Casino on an Indian Reservation and get a room for the night. It was real nice, bigger than my old apartment and had a jacuzzi in the bedroom. I rest for a few hours then hightail it back to Seattle. Oh btw I DID NOT have the money for this hotel but put it on a credit card.

So a couple hours later I drop the bike off and make it to my original hotel and relax for a few hours. Next thing I know I’m at the airport, I hear All Apologies and board my plane. Back in Chicago nothing has changed but I blew far more money that I had on the trip. Don’t regret it though I fucking made it to Seattle and Hope. Maybe one day I can go back and really enjoy it.