D.C. Cab is a Riot

Unlike today’s comedies which tend to be juvenile and mean-spirited, Joel Schumacher’s 1984 comedy “D.C. Cab” is genuinely funny and a quick-witted affair.  Although unheralded at the time, this flick about a struggling cab company has matured into comic gold.  Starring Mr. T, Gary Busey, Paul Rodriguez. and Adam Baldwin, this film has very little plot but nonstop madcap antics.  Although well-deserving of its R rating, the film is never sexist or disgusting.

Additionally, all the stars deserved better than they got; the film is much funnier than the current Will Ferrell comedy “The House,” for example.  In this film and the classic “Car Wash,” which he also wrote but did not direct, Schumacher displays a real skill for ethnic humor.  He knows that plot is unimportant but a quick pace and constant jokes are key.  Based on this film, it is borderline tragic that Mr. T. didn’t get better roles.  He is great here.  This film seems to lack the cult following it deserves, so we here at GROIN are putting it in our hall-of-fame as one of the greatest comedies of the 1980’s. We recommend renting it or buying the DVD today!

All Eyez on…

Rather bored with what is on Netflix, I decided to go to the local cinema and check out two films with interesting subject matter. The first film, “Beatriz at Dinner,” stars Salma Hayek and John Lithgow and is a dark satire about how two strangers from wildly different ethnic and economic backgrounds end up meeting and clashing at a fancy, uncomfortable dinner at a mansion. Hayek plays a hard-working Mexican lady having a very bad day, and Lithgow plays a Donald Trump-like real estate mogul. Both actors bring shadings to their characters so that they are more complex than you might expect. Hayek subtly suggests that her character may be TOO good for this world, and Lithgow’s character, though clueless and boorish, makes a real attempt to connect with and understand her. This is a strange film and at first I wasn’t sure if I liked it, but after about half an hour of reflection I figured out that I really liked it. It’s short, unpredictable, and has real sting. I’ll not soon forget it.

“All Eyez on Me” is the new Tupac biopic, and it’s interesting though uneven. It covers, though it rarely reflects on, the tragic life of Tupac Kapur, mentioning his family connections to the Black Panthers, his success as Hamlet in school, his struggling but sincere mother, his trouble with the law, his friendship with Jada Pinkett Smith, his tumultuous tenure at Death Row Records, and his tragic and mysterious death. This is way too much for a 140-minute film to cover,, and as a result parts of it come off better than others. I did appreciate, however, the demystification of the gangster lifestyle. The last third of the movie is a trip through Hell, and the filmmakers deserve credit for depicting it frankly. Overall, however, this film is not good enough to recommend. Although a good attempt has been made, the film just doesn’t work. Very few characters are portrayed in-depth, and as a result the film becomes confusing. The actor playing Tupac is OK but not great. Still, if the subject matter interests you, you might want to check it out.

In conclusion, although I only liked one of these two indie films, they are both a nice break from summer Hollywood fluff. I hope interesting indie films continue to get wide releases because they can be worthwhile. “The Beguiled” is an another example that I will review soon.

Cult Classic : Barbarians

If you enjoy bad but fun sword and sorcery B-films, then Cannon Films’ 1987 romp “Barbarians” is for you. In it, two twin barbarians (played by the Razzie-nominated David and Peter Paul) who have been manipulated to kill each other instead face off against the great Richard Lynch. This film, which is from the director of “Cannibal Holocaust,” features good production values and music by Pino Donaggio. More importantly, it appears to have inspired the “Golden Axe” video game series, with many scenes resembling the games and the twin brothers frequently wielding axes. The “Barbarian Brothers” can’t act but are really something,This movie can be found on a double bill DVD with Lee Majors and Cornel Wilde in “The Norseman.” Good times!

Alien : Covenant (8 out of 10)

OK, first thing out of the way: I liked “Prometheus.” It wasn’t scary enough, but it had great acting and asked interesting questions. Some of those questions get answered in “Alien: Covenant,” a sequel to “Prometheus” and a prequel to “Alien.” I think it’s best to see this new film knowing as little as possible, but I will tell you that Michael Fassbender is awesome playing two different androids, David and Walter. This new film has much more space action, quality kills, and real scares than any entry since the underrated “Alien 3.” It’s also a lot of fun. The music, cinematography, and special effects are spectacular. All of the acting is good. The movie makes you want to re-watch the old films. It’s a terrific date movie and a great entertainment. Can’t wait until the next one!

Alien 3 : Underrated

“Alien: Covenant” inspired me to re-watch the third and fourth “Alien” films. “Alien Resurrection,” the fourth one, did nothing for me but I really love “Alien 3.” As a stand-alone film, it is one of the most frightening and despairing films I have ever seen. The first film by the great director David Fincher (“Seven,” “Fight Club”), it finds Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) crashed into a prison planet, with her friends Newt and Hicks (from “Aliens”) dead. There was an egg on her ship, and now the Alien is haunting the prison planet. Can she stop the alien and save humanity? Is this the bleakest film ever made? I’d vote for the most underrated.

The script’s decision to make vile prisoners protagonists caused much audience derision, but it makes for a fascinating film. Also interesting is the film’s cinematography and production design, which create images that will singe their way into your brain. The music by Elliot Goldenthal is highly memorable and marked his big break as a composer of blockbusters. Finally, Groin Hall of Famer Charles Dance gives a great performance as Clemons, as does Charles S. Dutton as the most complex of the convicts. Whether you’re watching the Theatrical Cut or the extended, more coherent 2003 Assembly Cut, “Alien 3” is a powerful, ambitious film that is far better than it is given credit for. David Fincher, take another look at your film: it’s great! (He disowned it.) Much better than “Gone Girl”!

Re: Autopsy of Jane Doe

If you’re disheartened by the overly commercial movies being put out by Hollywood and you like horror, I’ve got a movie for you. “The Autopsy of Jane Doe,” starring Emile Hirsch and Brian (Hannibal Lector in “Manhunter”) Cox, is a small-scale but very frightening experience. It is about a farther (Cox) and son (Hirsch) who work at a mortuary, and their new patron, “Jane Doe,” has died a very unusual death, and they can’t figure out what killed her. Is she even dead

This film has two things going for it: great acting and an incredible sense of mystery, atmosphere, and dread. Brian Cox delivers his best performance in years as the father, a decent man with dark secrets. The director, who made “Trollhunter,” has a field day with the possibly haunted mortuary. Not only do we get jump scares galore, but also some truly disgusting and disturbing scenes. It all builds to a satisfying, dark conclusion.

In short, “The Autopsy of Jane Doe” is a good sleeper horror film. Rent or stream it and turn off all the lights. You will definitely be scared!

Guardians is a Hoot

I assumed I would never like a movie with a talking raccoon, but “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is a blast. The secret, I think, is in the casting. I am not a big fan of Chris Pratt, but he is perfect as Starlord in both films. Zoe Saldana is also good, but the show is continually stolen by Bradley Cooper as a foul-mouthed talking raccoon. Throw in Dave Bautista and Vin Diesel as the voice of Baby Groot and you have a cast of outcast heroes worth cheering.

I liked this film better than the first because of the cast being so much fun to watch. Not only do we get Sylvester Stallone and (in a memorable role) Kurt Russell, but Michael Rooker gets to be the hero. The 3-D, surprisingly, is very good, and the film never seems stuck in Marvel Movie Formula. In short, the film is a hoot and will probably make a gazillion dollars. And, yes, Stan Lee and Howard T. Duck make brief appearances.

A Decent Circle

The new movie “The Circle” has the unearned reputation from critics and audiences of being a bomb. It’s a smart thriller that plays against audience expectations. Going in, we know that Emma Watson has to be the heroine and Tom Hanks, as a Steve Jobs-type guru, must be the villain. However, neither character behaves according to type, which has caused many people to say the film makes no sense. I urge people to reconsider. This movie is about people who are in the public limelight 24/7. Because the main characters are in the limelight all the time, there is no way they can tip off that their modus operandi may be masking deeper motivations and secrets. As a result, it is a genuine surprise when the characters are unmasked at the end as not being what they seem. If the director had played everything straight and square, with characters behaving in a more understandable way, the point of the movie would have been lost. The film is about how technology forces us to react in unnatural ways.

That established, this is a good movie, much better than “Fate of the Furious” and “Beauty and the Beast.” It asks important questions about technology, privacy, and where we are today and where we are headed. The music, directing, performances, and cinematography are first-rate. Most importantly, it tells you that if a company asks you to be monitored by millions 24 hours a day without big pay, just say no. See “The Circle” to see that the future is now.

Cop Car

Currently showing on HBO and available on Blu-Ray and DVD, “Cop Car” is a terrific thriller that you probably haven’t heard about or seen. It’s about two child runaways who find an abandoned cop car in a remote location. They decide to break into it, explore, and take it on a joy ride. Little do they know that someone’s in the trunk, and that corrupt cop Kevin Bacon will do anything to get his car back.

The first thing I noticed about this film is how well it portrays children; the kids seem like real kids. Between saying swear words for the first time and being totally unaware of the danger of driving an apparently empty car, their naivety is stunning and believable. Secondly, Kevin Bacon’s performance is one of his very best. He doesn’t overact. and so he creates suspense about how dangerous he is. The third thing is how well-crafted this film is; it takes a simple scenario and creates a Hitchcockian level of suspense around it.

In short, “Cop Car” is a great thriller that is well worth your time. The performances are great and the suspense is real. Don’t miss it! –CoolAC

Comin’ At Ya!

How do you feel about 3D? For me, it’s a decided “meh.” Some films, such as “Prometheus” and “Tron: Legacy,” benefit from the process, while others, like “Pete’s Dragon,” just use it as a gimmick. Forget about “Avatar,” which had great 3D effects but an uninvolving story. If you want to have real fun, go to one of the granddaddys of 3D films, 1981’s “Comin’ At Ya!”

The film, which is available on DVD and Blu-ray in 2D and 3D, is a Spanish take on the spaghetti western starring Tony Anthony, a very poor man’s Clint Eastwood, and Victoria Abril, who went on to star in several Almodovar films. The plot is simple: Anthony’s fiancée (Abril) is kidnapped by a no0good villain (Gene Quintano) on their wedding day. To get her back and get revenge our hero must spring into action. Although this is a thin plot, I find it superior to other 3D films that followed in the ’80’s like “Jaws 3D.” However, the excellent music score and the inventive action really make the film stand out.

Although I do not have access to the 3D version, I was charmed by all the objects thrown at the screen (often in slow motion) such as snakes, rats, bullets confetti, other weapons, explosions, etc. The acting is pretty decent too and the film delivers non-stop action. Is this a great film? No, but it’s better than a lot of Hollywood’s westerns like last year’s “The Magnificent Seven.” It’s not terribly expensive to buy, so I’m recommending a purchase. It’s a good film to sit back and watch with friends, beer, and weed. If you want to have a good time, check out “Comin’ At Ya!” It’s a unique experience! –CoolAC