For a Bloody Good Samurai Flick Try…

“Blade of the Immortal,” a fantastic, gory supernatural Japanese samurai movie from master of horror Takashi Miike, is one of the year’s most entertaining films. Based on a hit manga series in Japan, the plot has many similarities to this year’s hit “Logan” but this movie is actually better! It concerns a little girl who must convince a world-weary, immortal samurai to avenge her family. And so he does, in one of the goriest, craziest, and most epic action films in a long time. The director, whose 100th film this is, may be familiar to American audiences through “Audition,” “Ichi the Killer,” the original “One Missed Call,” and “13 Assassins.” This time he tops himself, giving us a film that is a cross between Akira Kurosawa and Quentin Tarantino. It’s longish but never dull, and is now playing in select theaters and Amazon Prime streaming.

Thor the Bore

How could a film that is certified fresh at 92% on Rotten Tomatoes be one of the year’s worst films? Its simple, 92% of the public are fucking morons. Watch “Thor Ragnarok” and find out. This Thor sequel could be a good place to start the purge!

In the tradition of “Superman 3” and “Batman and Robin,” this film tosses away any semblance of seriousness to sling joke after joke at us. If the film was funny, like “Superman 3” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” are, this might be forgivable. But with the exception of a great cameo by Stan Lee, this film is not so much funny as painful. See Thor spar with Loki (again)! See Anthony Hopkins (for about a minute)! Watch Cate Blanchett and Jeff Goldblum embarrass themselves (though Goldblum is funny)! Witness the pointless humiliation of the Incredible Hulk character for laughs! Watch scene after scene of elaborate but pointless special effects! Thrill to horrible puns! It’s in 3-D (actually they did OK on that part)! Watch actors fail at conveying emotion in scene after scene! And watch your hard-earned dollars go down the toilet! If you miss one big-budget blockbuster this year, make it “Thor Ragnarok.” I walked out near the end, catastrophically disappointed. “Thor 3” is a bore and a chore, and I couldn’t wait to get out the door.

Harry Dean Stanton’s Last Film Reviewed

Film buffs should take note that a new film called “Lucky” is making the rounds starring the late, great Harry Dean Stanton. The film is about a 90-year old free spirit who is very eccentric and interesting. Du ring the course of the film, we find out about him and his beliefs and we meet other residents of the small town he lives in. The cast also includes Tom Skerritt and Ed Begley Jr., but it’s David Lynch who steals the film as a charming, home-spun oldster who has an unusual bond with his pet turtle Columbus. This is a solid, sometimes hilarious, well-made film that shows conservative people in a good light. Stanton’s and Skerritt’s character are war veterans and it’s nice to see a positive depiction of American veterans for a change. Be sure to stick around for a great gag at the very end! Stanton (from “Repo Man,” “Paris. Texas,” “Christine,” and “Escape from New York”) is incredibly affecting and deserves an Oscar. Don’t miss this excellent, bittersweet comedy!

‘The Foreigner’ is Popcorn-Drool Anti-White Trash

So I went to see this Jackie Chan movie that has been out almost a month called The Foreigner. Chan plays a poor bereaved Chinese ex-patriot whose daughter gets killed by an IRA bomb. It is set in the current day, so this is a joke. Enter Pierce Brosnan as a boring corporate IRA boardroom type guy (talk about boring settings). Brosnan does every scene with 15 white thugs, and fills a ridiculous stereotype that if you have an Irish accent, you are therefor either in the mob or you are a cop. The other good guy besides Chan is a black embassy officer, and it becomes clear early in the film that white people are evil. Also its obvious about five minutes in that Brosnan is the bad guy, and his little act pretending to be Mr. Reformed Bomber Guy is a fail.

To make matters worse, there must have been some kind of popcorn promotion at the theatre I attended. As the trailers about AMC’s shitty soda and popcorn proceeded, fat slob whites and Mexicans surrounded me like the Alamo, with loud slobbering sounds of buttery cholesterol death and straw slurping corn syrup clogging.

My girlfriend simultaneously decided to start browbeating me regarding relationship bullshit. I was forced to relocate to a less odorous, less slobbery section (near the exit). But slobs proceeded to stake positions around me and took my seat as I got up for 5 seconds for fresh air and recomposing. At this point (which was about twelve minutes into the film) I felt I would have to vomit if I stayed in this disgusting theatre.

As I went outside Mexican families waddled by with disgusting filled popcorn boxes the size of their upper frame, while towing two extra plastic bags (each) of even more enormous popcorn. This was truly shocking and nauseating. It was like Day of the Popcorn. These people were fucking popcorn zombies I am telling you.

So I went to the front counter and told them the crowd was disgusting and chewing more popcorn than I had ever seen in my entire life. And I was able to get a full refund.

Thank You For Your Service Says ‘Fuck You’ to Kneelers

Everywhere I go in Salinas these days people pull me aside to talk shit about the NFL kneelers. “Too many people in my family died for that flag”, “Those motherfuckers”, and stuff like that are the common small talk here. To start with, fans were not happy their local team the Raiders up and decided to move to Vegas despite sell-outs. Meanwhile the 49ers lost all their first 7 or 8 games, following the Colin Kap debacle where he started the kneeling trend.

I wasn’t expecting much from “Thank You For Your Service,” but I ended up being very pleasantly surprised. This film, which stars Miles Teller and is directed by the writer-producer of “American Sniper,” paints a bleak picture of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It shows the terror of war by following three Iraq War vets through their post-war experiences, which tend to be scarier than any horror film I’ve seen this year. One of the soldiers is an African American who has almost completely lost his ability to remember dates. Your heart goes out to him. Because the film is a true story, the resolution is not as exciting as it seems like it could be. But it’s a powerful film, and Amy Schumer (who I’m not wild about) is fine in a straight dramatic role. This movie is definitely worth seeing and probably better than “American Sniper.” Don’t miss it if you like serious films!

Mel Gibson Reigns in Blood Father

Sometimes you can find very interesting films you haven’t heard about by glancing at the shelves of Walmart and Best Buy. “Blood Father” starring Mel Gibson and William H. Macy is one such film. It finds Mel reaching back to his “Mad Max” and “Lethal Weapon” glory days as a former alcoholic and drug addict who is just out of jail and trying to walk the straight and narrow path. Unfortunately, his daughter has fallen in with some dangerous Mexican criminals. When she shoots her psychotic boyfriend and escapes, her estranged dad is the only person she can go to. Fortunately, even a reformed Mel Gibson is still quite the badass.

This film works on two levels. It’s a violent, bloody action thriller AND the story of a father and his daughter. Mel Gibson is the film’s greatest asset because, B-movie or not, he plays it for real. His tenderness towards his daughter makes for a nice contrast with the violent action scenes. This film shows up “Taken” with Liam Neeson as the wimpy flick that it is. Unlike that one, “Blood Father” has real stakes and the ending is not predictable. Mel proves that he is still as adept in front of the camera as he is behind it in “Hacksaw Ridge.” If you want a thrilling, bloody action thriller, watch “Blood Father.”

Walter Hill’s Assignment is Twisted

If there’s one movie you’re not supposed to like this year, it’s “The Assignment.” If you’re a member of the LGBT community, you’re supposed to be offended by its mere existence. If you’re the regular average Joe, the themes of sex change combined with copious male and female nudity will offend. Conversely, we at GROIN kind of like it! “The Assignment” (2016) is the new film by Walter Hill, a consistently good director whose work includes “The Warriors” and “Streets of Fire.” Perhaps dissatisfied with well-crafted but non-distinctive recent work like “Bullet to the Head,” Hill has opted to make the first action flick (that I know of) about a sex change.

Sigourney Weaver plays a brilliant, quite mad doctor who wants revenge for the death of her estranged brother. Frank Kitchen (played by Michelle Rodriguez) is a super-macho gangster who committed the crime and is about to get the surprise of his life. He is now a she, and will have to discover his feminine side as he enacts bloody revenge for an operation he never wanted. Meanwhile, the audience gets graphic male and female nudity so we are convinced that Frank is authentically male and female.

This movie kind of trashes the SF Tenderloin District lifestyle in its immorality and seediness. In between scenes there are comic book like jump cuts reminiscent of his earlier classic The Warriors. The antagonists include mad plastic surgeons, psychiatrists, Chinamen Mafioso types, and dive bar trolls. The best thing is the quick pace of the film, and the high number of action sequences. The film’s use of SF as a dark backdrop of societal collapse is effective. This movie subversively does not give the gay lifestyle a pass. As such, it is a brave film.

We are supposed to be offended, apparently, that Frank didn’t want the operation and doesn’t like being female. I was more interested in the performances of Rodriguez and Weaver. Rodriguez, who was also good in “Girlfight,” is convincing as the transgender protagonist. We believe her as both sexes, and we also believe she is tough and unhappy. For Weaver, this is her best work since the 1990’s. Proclaiming her superiority to all of mankind and outraged that more people don’t know Shakespeare and Poe front and backwords , she is the most memorable antagonist in a long time. Rent it to sneer and watch it to gasp, because “The Assignment” is the rare B-action flick that doesn’t suck.

American Made Delivers

“American Made” is Tom Cruise’s best movie in awhile. It’s a dark comedy based on true events about a pilot who gets in way over his head working for the C.I.A. and, later, Pablo Escobar and Manuel Noriega. Because his actions shed so much negative light on America’s activities in the Middle East (detailed in the Iran-Contra scandal), he is able to escape punishment for an extraordinarily long time. Although Cruise has trouble with his character’s southern accent, he fearlessly portrays his character’s lack of moral qualms. In fact, in terms of having access to planes, a ton of money, and guns for no good reason, his character resembles the Vegas shooter. Is this just a coincidence, or is it some kind of deeper message from Hollywood about how history repeats. Look at Obama’s cash pallet Iran deal. Or how the CIA accidentally armed ISIS when the Iraqi army forfeited their weapons.

One of the best things about this film was that the cinematography was excellent. Many of the shots of the vast forests of South America are breath-taking as Cruise flies above. There are some similarities to the film Gold, starring Mathew McConoughey, released not long ago. Its good that films about serious subject matter are sometimes still hitting the mainstream.

Director Doug Liman of “The Bourne Identity” and “Edge of Tomorrow” fame keeps the story focused and the satire sharp. It’s definitely better than the similar “Lord of War” and “War Dogs.” And compared to “Air America” it is golden. The problems with those other films is that they were too whimsical. In short, if you’re looking for a serious film that happens to be very entertaining, go with “American Made.”

Friend Request OK Despite Cliche’

Sometimes you learn valuable lessons from schlock horror films. In the case of “Friend Request,” it’s this: don’t friend people on Facebook who you don’t know. The film is a German production in English and similar to 2014’s “Unfriended.” The film combines real internet fears with spooky “Omen” style death scenes. The pacing is fierce and the body count high as the ghost of an unpopular internet girl kills off our unlucky protagonist’s friends one by one, making them look like suicides. The film gives us the opportunity to reflect that maybe we should concentrate on real-world friends as opposed to internet ones. If you’re looking for a scary time and have already seen “It,” you could do worse.

Dark Tower – A Solid Fantasy Film

Our other staff writer underestimated how good this film is. The film adaptation of Stephen King’s Dark tower is a towering masterpiece. Elba is awesome as the gunslinger and takes the role seriously. Also, he does some good dead-pan humor. He plays a fantasy western version of a Knights Templar. His guns were ‘forged from Exacalibur’.

McConaughey is also strong as the man in black, who can be thought of as the false prophet in a Biblical sense. The man in black bears a striking resemblance to the Randall Flagg character in the Stand, another apocalyptic Stephen King masterpiece. Unlike other modern hits like Harry Potter, this movie the Dark Tower warns against the use of occultist magic.

The most obvious occult symbols in the film are the dark tower itself (Tower of Babel/ WTC parallels are obvious from the NYC skyline shots being ominously shown over and over again), and the portal itself (CERN parallels). Just as in the stories Firestarter, there are tons of insinuations to the MK Ultra program (unveiled by the Church committee in the 70s in Congress and the victims were paid reparations), in which the government takes kids who have psychic abilities and abuses them and does experiments on them. In the Dark Tower the government keeps trying to seize the kid character in the film to do just that.

This movie is considered a fantasy. But it is not. It is Stephen King’s coded way of warning us of several things:
a) magic and occultism are dangerous and help to bring about the Anti-Christ (the Man in Black), by opening portals for demons to enter our world through.
b) the government kidnaps and experiments on people who are psychic (Firestarter with Drew Berrymore this occurs throughout the film, also in this film they try and get the kid for his psychic abilities, and its done through mental health or foster care)
c) The falling and rebuilding of the World Trade Center has some sort of strong connection to the occult, and King quite possibly predicted the fall of the Twin Towers in his first volume from 1982.

King started writing in the early 1970’s. At that time there was a strong mistrust of government. From the Gulf of Tonkin, to the Church committee, to Cointelprolo Operation, the government had gone and lied to the public while doing some really evil things. Stephen King clearly picked up on this. Many of his works exhibit an anti government paranoia. Not just Firestarter (where George C. Scott acts super creepy almost sexual intonations towards Drew Berrymore), but in the Dead Zone the Martin Sheen character was set to become a fascist dictator set on nuking the world. Lawnmower Man had ‘the Shop’ too. Or in the Stand, where small pox virus breaks out of a government lab, killing off most of the globe’s population. Only to be saved by the ‘Hand of God’ at the end. Stephen King himself is the visionary, and much of what he warns us about is directly from the bible.

This newest film of Stephen King’s is the clearest indication and proof yet that King believes (and is right) that Christian prophecies are fulfilled beyond anything that could be considered coincidence. The fact that the book dealt with apocalyptic towers in NYC way back in 1982 is a blatant example of how human history and future has been coded into biblical prophecy, and cleverly deciphered, reinterpreted, and laid bare for keen observers of pop culture to use as a tool to heighten their intellectual awareness.

Another notable simulacra throughout the film and the book the characters say ‘I shoot with my mind not my hand’. This echoes Infowars.com slogan ‘there is a war for your mind’ just a little to closely to be coincidence. There is also a line that repeats throughout regarding virtue (or lack thereof) about ‘Having forgotten the face of your father(s)’, which likely relates to the Founding Fathers and how America has abandoned its original principles.  As you watch the film see what examples you can find as a viewer in terms of occultism. They are plentiful.