From its humble beginnings as a fake trailercreated for a SXSW movie trailer contest, Hobo with a Shotgun came out guns blazing as a cult classic before it was even clear that it would be made into a full-length feature. And with such magnificent camp, gratuitous violence, and good old-fashioned gore, how could it not? I first heard about the movie when I learned it was being made available for streaming through certain sites before being released to theaters, and yet somehow or another I never got around to watching it. So when some friends called Saturday to see if I wanted to go down to Long Beach for a screening, I knew I had to do it.
In true hobo fashion, Rutger Hauer rolls into town on an open train car, apparently hoping to get a new start at life. Unfortunately the city he’s arrived in bears an uncanny resemblance to the futuristic Detroit as imagined in Robocop, but this city is even worse: it appears to be in Canada. As he sets about collecting recycling to start saving money toward a lawnmower purchase (because what homeless man doesn’t need a good lawnmower??), he quickly stumbles upon the source of much of the city’s problems. Mobster-type madman Drake and his equally mad knucklehead sons, Slick and Ivan, seem to have a chokehold on the city and its law enforcement personnel. Continue reading “Hobo with A Shotgun”
After a bit of a hiatus for “Old Movies / Young Eyes,” we’re back this week with another movie that may be pushing the limits of what constitutes “old.” But really, seeing as how this movie well preceded the 1990s, I think it fits the bill. Maybe my loose goal of sticking to pre-1985 movies was a little too rigid.
Part of the reason for selecting Wall Street for this week’s post is that I happened to catch the 2010 sequel as an in-flight movie at some point in the last year, and thought now might be as good a time as any to catch the original, which I had not previously seen. After all, it’s been a little while since I’ve had me some Charlie Sheen in my life, so things were beginning to feel a little glum.
As our own Steven B points out in his Sequel City post from last September, one of the things that Oliver Stone certainly does well is provide the viewer with a strong sense of setting. In Wall Street, Stone definitely captures the zeitgeist of mid-1980s Wall Street through the lenses of ambitious young Bud Fox and his would-be mentor, the amoral Gordon Gekko—the portrayal of whom scored Michael Douglas an Academy Award for Best Actor.
This film gives us Bud Fox as a symbol of the newer generation coming up in the 1980s, wandering bright-eyed and exuberant toward that classic American promise of wealth and prosperity. As we see after Fox’s long and disheartening day cold-calling potential clients and losing money out-of-pocket to shadier types, his roots are a little more blue-collar in nature. He meets with his dad (played by: his dad—I sort of like it when they do that) at a bar with other blue-collar good ol’ boys. Bud reiterates to his father just how promising his white-collar career can be if he can only catch the right break, and then he hits his dad up for some cash, “just until next month.”
The wheels for Bud’s lucky break—and his introduction to the world of insider trading—are set in motion in this conversation with his father, when he learns of an upcoming boon for his father’s airline company in the form of a favorable FAA finding. Armed with that little nugget of insider info and a box of cigars, Fox goes out the next morning to wish “big fish” Gordon Gekko happy birthday and beg for a few minutes of his time.
Stepping out on the limb like that, Bud Fox gets himself into a position to get schooled in the “real” Wall Street of the 1980s, the one in which “Greed is Good.” As Bud Fox naively asserts that he thought hard work might have something to do with making it big in the stock market, Gekko sets him straight by telling him: “Hard work? My father worked like an elephant all his life and died from a heart attack at 49. You had what it took to get in my office; let’s see if you have what it takes to stay here.”
Bud has positive, grounding influences in this film on both the business and the labor sides of the aisle, in the form of his own hard-working father along with the white-haired Jiminy Cricket type in his office, Lou Mannheim (played by Hal Holbrook). Mannheim regularly chimes in with little corrective soliloquies, representing the idealistic version of how things can or should be in free-market capitalism, such as:
Quick buck artists come and go with every bull market, but the steady players make it through the bear markets. You’re a part of something here, Bud. The money you make creates science and research jobs. Don’t sell that out.
Bud remains set on making the big time, though, and follows Gekko’s leadership until he’s eventually in a position where he’s forced to choose between a broader set of values and the simply value of an easy buck. Also, he gets a chance to have Darryl Hannah walk him through 1980s interior design aesthetics.
All in all, this was an enjoyable movie that highlights some of the serious challenges in the way our economy operates that remain challenges to this day even offer a full banc de binary review. I certainly agree with Steven B’s assessments, both that both the 1987 film and the 2010 sequel provide fascinating (albeit fictionalized) insights into the kinds of shenanigans that guide the “invisible hand,” and that Michael Douglas outshines both Charlie Sheen and Shia LaBeouf in these movies.
Once again, it’s been a while since I’ve posted. I know I told you I’d keep you updated about my latest efforts to adopt healthier eating/fitness habits, but then I guess I got busy with other stuff. Or something.
In the time since I last posted, a lot has actually happened:
Mom came out to see me participate in a commencement ceremony at CSUN.
I went to Nor Cal with mom for a weekend with the Ferrara clan.
I went to Six Flags with some friends and had a lot of fun but was left with a lingering feeling of having been traumatized by X2.
My friend got married in Vegas and I went out to help him celebrate.
I made an impulse decision to fly to Okinawa for a convention over Fourth of July weekend.
Sounds like a lot of fun, right? It has been.
As far as the diet/fitness stuff goes, I’ve decided not to be as much of a stickler about it as I was thinking I should be and i just bought the venus factor diet. A couple of friends observed that maybe if the habit I’m trying to eliminate is being in the position of getting a drive-thru meal at 10pm because I haven’t eaten yet, maybe I could simply try avoiding drive-thrus rather than proclaiming “I shall not eat after 9pm EVER”. That said, my innate drive for self-sabotage has led me to interpret the decision not to abide by those goals as license to resort back to eating large pizzas for dinner and getting ice cream at 11 at night.
Just the other evening I was talking with a friend about it and he has agreed to be a fitness mentor to me for the time being. My first instructions are to not worry about diet etc, but instead just get into a habit of going to the gym. Four times a week: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and either Saturday or Sunday; 15 minutes of cardio each time I go, no more, no less. I went yesterday morning and it felt nice to be back in there. And while I won’t be stressing on the diet, I will avoid the drive-thru.
I’ve been brushing up on my Japanese for next week’s trip. My baby bro is in Okinawa at the moment, so unless he gets deployed somewhere between now and then, we should be able to get together for a meal. I’m looking forward to it.
Finally, the reason this post has been so long delayed is that I’ve spent all of my free time over the last week or two going through old posts and cleaning them up, trying to correct broken photo links etc. that have come with the multiple migrations of this blog (going from blogger to wordpress, and various new installations of wordpress with different hosts, and so on). That project seems to be finished for the time being, and doing it was a fascinating trip down memory lane.
I’ll leave you with a gallery of pictures from recent fun:
Cinefamily’s Shion Sono retrospective last weekend—where I got to see Love Exposure for a second time in all its glory—kicked off with an exclusive advance screening of Sono’s latest release, Cold Fish. Sometimes there are movies that say “based on a true story” and you can’t help but wonder by what stretch of the imagination that could possibly be true. Well, Shion Sono has quite the imagination, and as he mentioned in the Q&A at Cinefamily last weekend, the ideas and characters from Cold Fish were modeled after actual court transcripts from the case of an actual deranged murderer in Japan.
The movie begins with the introduction to a small family: mild-mannered fish-store owner Shamoto and his wife and daughter. Shamoto’s wife is portrayed from the start as a woman who, unhappy with her lukewarm marriage, is basically putting in the minimum required effort to be a good wife. Shamoto’s daughter, who can’t stand her stepmother, is likewise an incredibly disrespectful and delinquent young woman. But after getting caught attempting to shoplift in a nearby store, Shamoto’s daughter is “rescued” by gregarious and charismatic Murata (played by popular Japanese actor Denden) who then invites her to come work in his large, popular fish-store across town. Continue reading “Cold Fish”
(This is not officially a “Taste of Asia” post, but it sort of qualifies…)
The word “epic” is one of many that has been increasingly overused in popular culture lately, and so I often try to avoid using it and contributing to that trend. But then a movie likeLove Exposure comes along, authentically embodying all that the word epic connotes.
Part of my reason for writing about Love Exposure this week instead of my usual installment of “Old Movies / Young Eyes” is that folks in Los Angeles have one final opportunity to see this one on the big screen (at least until some other theater decides to give it another whirl a couple years down the road, which is not beyond the realm of possibility).
In the interest of full disclosure, I must confess that I do tend to have a soft spot for nearly all things Japanese. (Natto does not fall into this category.) Continue reading “Love Exposure”
Every once in a while, er – well, more often than care to admit, I open up my Netflix DVD mailer and find a movie that I don’t even recall having put into my queue. Such was the case when I found Stranger Than Paradise waiting for me in my mailbox last week, and I really had no idea what the movie was except that it was an early Jim Jarmusch movie. And I don’t really know all that much about Jim Jarmusch, even, except that I’ve heard some of my more pretentious indie movie snob friends drop his name here and there in the past. I did watch Broken Flowers when it showed at my local art-house theater back when I lived in Illinois, and then later picked up the DVD for $3 on a clearance rack at Ross Dress-for-Less here in California. Though I guess those choices were more informed by my love of Bill Murray than by my ill-formed opinions of Jarmusch. But anyway, I should really start talking about Stranger Than Paradise. Continue reading “Stranger Than Paradise”