Rant Time: Moments don’t make the movie

Over the last few years there has been a common concern between fellow filmgoing friends and myself. Mainly that while popular films might have incredible moments sparsed throughout their runtimes, those moments don’t represent quality storytelling overall and that spectacle drives ticket sales while cinematically speaking some films have been lacking. I know there comes a time to debate what type of film deserves what level of expectation, but this has happened enough, even discounting blockbuster carnage a la ‘Transformers’ aside, that it is a legitimate concern.

This was most recently brought back into the forefront of our minds upon an initial viewing of ‘The Amazing Spiderman 2’. Yes, a bit late, but none of us had been particularly enthused with the first outing with Andrew Garfield’s attempt at the character, so it took awhile before any of us were that excited to see the sequel that ruined Sony’s Spiderverse anyways. This film is a prime example of what I’m talking about. Many, but not all, of the Spiderman scenes in the film were fun and more accurate to the character than the initial film, bombastic, aerial, slow-mo fun. That being said, those were almost entirely the only points of the film that either made sense (When did Peter Parker become so whiny and quote “Edgy” anyways?) or were even all that engaging. I could probably cut twenty minutes of the film where Garfield is simply staring open mouthed like an idiot for no reason at all. Admittedly, I am biased here, this film is not my cup of tea, or my Spiderman to be honest. There are fleeting moments when Garfield pulls off aspects of the character wonderfully, but they are tarnished by its overlong runtime, questionable tonal shifts, and musical score throughout.

Godzilla was another hit that confounded me entirely. Let me say first however that I do have a love for monster movies, particularly for ‘The King of Monsters’ himself. Gareth Edwards adaption’s popularity is so very odd to me in that it A) killed off the only compelling character in the first twenty minutes, B) focused on easily the most useless and uninteresting protagonist I’ve seen onscreen in years, and C) ignored its title character for most of the movie. Don’t get me wrong, there are awesome moments here and there, but the film denies us several fight sequences, tries desperately to get us to care about a character that doesn’t even seem to want to be involved in the story much less lead us through the plot, and wastes the few good actors they do have in its ranks, namely Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe, and Elizabeth Olsen. If only they had killed off Aaron-Taylor Johnson instead, the film would have been far better.

James Bond returned this year in ‘Spectre’ which brought Bond back to the Whiz-Bang adventure stylings that would be more fitting for Pierce Brosnan’s Bond than Daniel Craig’s. While there are indeed moments of excellence, that opening sequence alone was worth the price of admission, they cannot mend serious flaws that hurt the film otherwise. What’s particularly disapointing here though is that the last James Bond film ‘SkyFall’ had been a profound story for the character, questioning whether or not He is still needed, the film challenged the audience to rethink what Bond meant to them and his relevancy in the medium, ‘Spectre’, on the other hand, nestled back into the tired tropes of the double O agent and neglected to challenge the character, or audience, hardly at all. Relying on a formula that’s been done time and again can only do so much, especially when the shadow of the previous film stands as tall as ‘Skyfall’ does. Audiences’ memories aren’t that bad.

So, we should come to expect more from our films given how many we churn out each year, right? As an informed audience, we should want our art to challenge us, ask us the hard questions, show us the hard truths, and be better than we expect. Not all movies have to go through the gauntlet because of audience demands though, and I get that, but shouldn’t we want more substance out of our stories than just being entertained? Some films are simply pure entertainment, and that’s fine! However we shouldn’t let this permeate a majority of the movies being made. A variety throughout the cinematic landscape is certainly wanted, and needed! Personally, I want to see more films that inspire people, make emotional connections, and showcase ourselves onscreen in the best light.

It should also be noted that this is by no means to say that we don’t have nuanced and complex films solely relying on spectacle. This year alone has had many worthy additions, ‘Mad Max’, ‘Inside Out’, & ‘Creed’ are all magnificient in their own rights and are only a fraction of the quality content out there. So, my point is get out and see a film outside of your comfort zone, it might challenge you in a way you never thought possible! See something new!




Rant Time: Hell Ride

This where I take the time to funnel all of my negativity regarding movies into one, hopefully funny, place. Note that from here on out there will (most likely) be an abundance of expletives and spoilers for any titles mentioned. Remember, I’m not (probably) as irate as it may seem, this “Character” is only a version of me. You’ve been warned.

Have you ever heard of actor/writer/director Larry Bishop? No? Well get ready folks cause this man’s story may have you laughing in tears, or you’ll have blood vessels popping from the insanity of his creative choices.

Back in College there was a time when my friends and I endlessly consumed terrible, terrible movies on repeat. I’m still in awe of why we did this to ourselves. “Hell Ride” was the first movie of that tradition. A friend from back home had sent me a bunch of movies for my college friends and I to watch, he wasn’t even entirely sure of all the titles he’d thrown in that box. Well, after going through a few good and/or entertaining titles we came upon the monstrosity that is “Hell Ride”.

Apparently, the story goes that small time actor/filmmaker Larry Bishop, son of Ratpack member Joey Bishop, chatted up directing legend Quentin Tarantino on the set of “Kill Bill 2”. Bishop had a small role in the film, as Strip club owner “Larry Gomez”, a fairly forgettable role in all honesty. Apparently that’s when Bishop told Tarantino of an idea he had for a Motorcycle Revenge Flick in the vein of “Chrome and Hot Leather” and “Angel Unchained”. Granted, I haven’t seen those movies, but I assure you, he missed the mark. Tarantino reportedly told Bishop that if he ever got that idea off the ground he’d help him put it out there. I always assume this conversation happened while Tarantino was walking between sets with Bishop trailing behind and Quentin eventually muttering “Yeah sure kid” with Bishop eventually holding Tarantino to that promise later. *That can be the ONLY reason Tarantino’s name is plastered all over the sad marketing for this movie.**Sidenote:I’ve included a link to the trailer below so you can fully understand the shitstorm that this movie truly is.

Okay, now strap in, because now I will do you the disservice of describing this movie. The Basic plot to this movie is that a decades old rivalry between two biker gangs is reignited. Okay, not a terrible idea so far right? It could go places. Just wait. So, Larry Bishop himself plays the character of “Pistolero”, deduct a point, that is the leader of “The Victors”, make that two points. In this gang there are two other main characters that are loyal to Pistolero’s leadership, Michael Madsen as “The Gent”, and Eric Balfour as “Comanche”. Yes, those are the ACTUAL character names. There’s even a throwaway character named APE SHIT, Motherfucker, are you kidding me? Anyways, these two idiots supply a lot of the terrible things that are said and done in this movie, and by terrible things, I mean, lines of dialogue that are so bad they threaten the very existence of cinema itself! The very worst offender here is Bishop himself, but we’ll get to that in a second. I don’t have to transcribe a scene to let you know that the script was basically written by a coked out seventeen year old that thought he was being clever. The writing is FULL of bad, and I do mean BAD, puns, sexualized double entendres in offensive taste, and pseudo-profundity that boggles the mind. It would be one thing if this was in any way satirical, but it’s all portrayed quite solemnly and the film takes its seriousness seriously which is odd because of its insanely adolescent nature.

I’m getting ahead of myself though. Somehow David Carradine and Dennis Hopper were both roped (blackmailed likely) into smaller performances in this trainwreck as well. Hopper plays a role that not-so-subtly tries to be the metaphorical connection to the days of ”Easy Rider” and the like. Carradine is “The Deuce”, no one is saved from the writing, the villain of the piece. The Deuce is leader of “The Six-Six-Sixers”, rival gang of the The Victors. They show up on “pres” Pistolero’s turf after banishment years ago (or something, nobody actually cares about the plot here) and start to kill off members of The Victors and try to claim the territory. The Sixers have an “Ace in the Hole” as Billy Wings, aka Vinnie Jones, who has a particularly memorable scene because of its absurdity. He has tattoos of multicolored wings all over his arms. Apparently, he tells a random girl in another throwaway scene, they’re “for all the pussies I’ve licked. The white wings are for licking a virgin’s pussy. The Red one is for licking a bloody pussy, and the Purple one.. well that’s for eating a dead pussy!” I shit you not I cannot make this up. I swear to god he says Pussy about eighty four more times in that scene. Oh Vinnie, you were so great in “Snatch”, what happened? Tell you what I’ll just list some of the words or phrases that are repeatedly said throughout the runtime: Fire (said 16 times in less than two minutes in one scene that was meant to be sexy but was really just stupid), Dust (The Gent has a whole god damn speech about dirt for fuck’s sake, and it’s not even profound or meaningful!), Six (”You go down the sixth road on the sixth day after six, but watch our for those Sixers!), Hell (referenced/said in about a billion ways), and Fuck (I don’t usually care how many fucks are in a movie, Wolf of Wall Street did just fine, but when you only have a word bank of like ten other words in your script, maybe tone down the fucks, you fucks).

So yeah, everything about this movie is complete horseshit. The worst part, out of many… many terrible parts, is that it’s possibly the most anticlimactic film of all time. They all build up, mention, or reference the Sixers every chance they can get and when the final god damn “Showdown” happens it’s basically five guys in the middle of the road and Vinnie Mother Fucking Jones’ character shows up with a MOTHER FUCKING TINY CROSSBOW. YUP. A Handheld crossbow. Wonderful. So practical! The perfect weapon to bring to a gunfight! Yeah so the bad guys are dispatched in about four seconds, Pistolero say “Awww Hell” like three more times and they all fuck off. Happily ever after.

0/10 No Stars. Failure across the board. Ugh. That is my rant time, for this time. I need to go and cleanse myself… and my soul.

***I’ve included a link here where the whole damn mess can be viewed on youtube for free because I could never actually ask anyone to give any money to actually see this crapfest, but it truly is a sight to behold, so there you go, try not to choke on your own vomit.

*Apparently, I was wrong  “Hell Ride was conceived when director Bishop was invited to Quentin Tarantino’s home to view a print of The Savage Seven. Upon realizing that there hadn’t been a true biker film in years, the pair quickly contacted Bob Weinstein and conspired to produce a lean and mean two-wheeled revenge flick that would more than make up for lost time.”