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.”

Bladerunner 2049 Review

As a sequel to perhaps the greatest science-fiction film of all time, “Blade Runner 2049” has a lot to live up to. And, surprisingly, it does, in one of the year’s best films. Ryan Gosling plays Agent K, a replicant blade runner who is assigned to track down and kill Deckard (Harrison Ford, returning from the original). He soon discovers that, through Deckard, he may hold the key to a secret that could change history forever.

This film cost $150 million and looks it. Society on Earth is barely surviving an environmental onslaught, but it is still recognizably a “Blade Runner” world. There is a big Sony presence in the future, and a gigantic hologram of a naked woman (which must look great in 3D). The line between human and androids has further blurred.

Harrison Ford is much better in this film than he was in the first one, exuding warmth, humanity, and purpose. I also really liked Jared Leto as the sinister, blind android manufacturer, and Robin Wright as K’s understanding superior. Besides being excellent science fiction, the film is also a mystery and a film noir. As with the first one, the ending is surprisingly moving and provides a real emotional catharsis. Hans Zimmer’s score (with an assist from Vangelis) is his best in years.

If I have a complaint, it is that the film, photographed by Roger Deakins, is not as aesthetically pleasing as the original. That’s a small gripe, though, for a film that accomplishes so much. “Blade Runner 2049” is a must-see.

Kingsman 2: A Violent Masterpiece

You want action? You want fun? “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” delivers! More entertaining and less nasty than the first entry, this movie involves Julianne Moore trying to take over the world with a drug that incapacitates and eventually kills anyone who has ever used drugs. Only the Kingsmen can stop her. OK, so the plot is as silly as a “Naked Gun” movie. That doesn’t matter. The exuberance with which this film is made and acted is what matters. For example, there is a great gag about turning people into edible sausages that is a great reference to the classic exploitation film “The Exterminator.”

Another great thing is the way Elton John is used; playing himself, he is genuinely funny. Basically, though a little long, this film is one riotous scene after another. Star Taylor Edgerton is more convincing than he was the first time and it is great to see Colin Firth back. Basically, it’s a film you can turn your brain off and enjoy. The action is non-stop and the gags are fast and furious. If you like action and off-color humor, don’t miss this one!

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.

Mr. No Legs Wrecks House

Tired of lame Hollywood action films? How about “feel-good” Hollywood films about disability? If you said yes to either of these questions, I’ve got a movie with you. “The Amazing Mr. No Legs,” aka “Mr. No Legs,” is a very low-budget but nevertheless satisfying film about a gritty, tough double-amputee crime boss who knows martial arts and gives the cops fits. Such actors as Richard Jaeckel and John Agar are helpless against our villain, played by Ron Slinker. Basically, the film is a showcase to show that a disabled guy can be just as badass as Bruce Lee.

In this film the star actually was a bi-amputee. That doesn’t stop him from doing flying jump kicks in slow motion from his wheelchair. The star takes the role seriously and seems to have tried to develop an actual martial arts fighting system which a bi-amputee can utilize. It is mostly based off of forearm strikes and blocks, while making Bruce Lee ‘waaa!’ type sounds. The lead is an inspiration to people everywhere, that there is never any excuse for not kicking complete ass! Sure, this guy could have stayed homed collecting disability. That would be way too easy though. Instead, our hero becomes a hit man for the mob. Even that is not a tough enough assignment for him. So he takes on the mob directly.

The production values are poverty row but it doesn’t matter. Quentin Tarantino needs to remake this film as soon as possible. Both the film and Ron Slinker are headed straight for the GROIN hall of fame, and this hard-to-find film is a must-watch. Go, Mr. No Legs, go!

Sci-Fi Roundup

This movie is not the Eddie Murphy, Martin Lawrence jail comedy. Its about a crew fighting a killer amoeba. Although the overall quality of films the last five or ten years has spiked downward, sci-fi has spiked upward in quality with some wonderful films that haven’t gotten the attention they deserve. The current film “Life,” for example, is a very interesting “Alien” knockoff about what would happen if we discovered alien life on Mars. The answer: nothing good. We think we’re getting “E.T.” and instead we’re getting something worse than The Thing. This film has interesting characters, some believable science, and is a tremendously inspired production. The director uses long, painstakingly crafted sequences to draw us in and (hopefully) make us forget we’re watching a movie. The performances of Jake Gylllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, and Ryan Reynolds draw us in, and, although the film is similar to “Alien,” it scares us.

The new film “Phoenix Forgotten,” produced by Ridley Scott, is a found-footage film in the style of “The Blair Witch Project” about the Phoenix Lights UFO incident from 1997. A group of teens witness the event and decide to investigate further and film what they find. Bad idea. It turns out that the incident is much more sinister in nature than they thought. Will they survive? Maybe not, but their quest proves somewhat compelling as all of us are curious about UFO’s. The film is well-made, acted, and scored and delivers some terror on a low budget. It’s not great, but you could do worse.

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