Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bull Durham (1988, Ron Shelton)

I'll admit that I've always had a soft spot for sports movies. They are usually entertaining despite having typical sports style cliches, and many times they are similar, but I keep tuning in anyways. However, the good and great ones are more about the characters, why they play the game, and about how sports can so easily be connected to life and the mysteries of the universe. At least that's how Ron Shelton's baseball movie classic Bull Durham looks at America's past time. This a comedy that also features some well created drama, especially towards the end, and has well rounded, likable characters and some of the most well written dialogue I've seen in well, any movie, period.

The great cast does indeed help, as it features Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon and Kevin Costner in an interesting love triangle. Most of the film's laughs come from amazing monologues, such as Costner's ad libbed "I believe in...." speech that brought a smile to my face, or Sarandon's Annie's voice over stating one of her unique and straightfoward quotations and opinions about life, the game, and everything else. I'm sure that Robbins' Nuke reminds some of us of certain guys who have played the game in the past, or who are in the Major Leagues now, and even though Costner was actually not much older than Robbins he embodies the world wary, ancient feeling Crash Davis particularly well.

What's also remarkable about this movie is how Shelton brings out the humor in your seemingly average, typical baseball scenes. One of my favorite moments is when Crash, Nuke, and practically the entire team is at the mound, and Crash tells the assistant manager everything going on, closing with "We are dealing with a lot of shit." Sure there are some outrageous moments, but they only add to the film, not detract from it. And hey you can't go wrong with a film that has a last act that, even though it may feel out of place in a film as silly at times as this one, is really quite moving. That last scene is rather simple, yet profound, and I wouldn't have Shelton end things any other way.

To me, Field of Dreams is still the better movie, but I think over time this one may surpass it. For now I'd say that Costner's best role is in Open Range, but Crash and his funny, charasmatic and awesome role as Roy in Shelton's Tin Cup stand as my personal favorites. I'm just glad that they never made a sequel, although you could almost consider the also rather funny but lesser Major League, which came out a year later, as this movie's big league counterpart. 95

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Most Anticipated 2011

I finally decided to go through IMDB.com to form some kind of terrible list (and not on it are Rango, Drive Angry, or Scream 4, as I've seen Scream 4, and the others I will probably rent when they come out on DVD).

1. Tree of Life-95
2. Super 8-95
3. Drive-100
4. X-Men: First Class-90
5. Everything Must Go-91
6. Super
7. Hobo With a Shotgun-83
8. Rubber-85
9. Stake Land-87
10. Hesher-93
11. Cat Run
12. Henry's Crime
13. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
14. The Hangover Part II-77
15. Cowboys & Aliens-79
16. Fright Night
17. The Rum Diary
18. Hugo-98
19. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows-90
20. Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol-90

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Never Piss Off a Satanic Cult

I actually wish this had been my first Jacques Tourneur film and not Out of the Past. Don't get me wrong, his 1947 film is a great hard boiled film noir classic, setting standards for the genre. It’s just that Jacques Tourneur was really a horror director. An auteur so to speak, working with the same producer, Val Lewton, for a number of films. I haven't seen all of them though but I eventually plan to, as from what I've seen the man knows how to make a good picture. Despite his budget restraints and the fact that he made movies in the 1940s when the industry was just entering middle age, the guy pulled off some worthy and even creepy films that have since been regarded as worthy additions to not only the horror genre but also cinema.

Anyways, Curse of the Demon is for the most part an excellent example of how Tourneur suggested horrible things without really showing them. Yes the demon does make an appearance, but this wasn't actually part of his plan and the creature isn't really featured hardly at all. This only makes it fiercer, strange, and gives it an awesome and eerie menacing quality. I love how its looks exactly like a soldier of the Devil would appear like, and it has a grand entrance that is both freaky and cool despite the obviously dated special effects.

The protagonist, played by Dana Andrews, simply fills the role of the skeptical man of knowledge who finally realizes too late that guess what: the supernatural, the ancient evil that lurks beneath the world of science and understanding will get you. And rip you're face off before chewing on your soul and then picking you're remains out of your teeth using another hapless victim. And naturally there's a devil worshipper who controls this foul creature with a method that seems both sensible and silly all at the same time.

For the most part one can take this film both seriously while also regarding it as a rather silly yet entertaining movie. The demon is pretty badass, and the use of shadows and music only add to the film's already creepy and somewhat surreal quality. For this and more, Tourneur is to be admired, to be inspire and be copied by other horror directors, as he is the shining standard of "Less is more." That doesn't always work in every horror movie, but the creators of some rather modern and recent bombastic, typically wretched horror films could learn something from the man. Grade: 81