Monday, March 31, 2014

Machete Kills

It started out as a kind of joke, with director Robert Rodriguez filming a trailer for a fictional movie called Machete to be part of the grind house experience that he and Quentin Tarantino were trying to recreate with their double feature called Grindhouse.  Six years and two actual movies later, Machete is still kind of a joke, one that people with a certain sense of cinematic humor will never grow tired of. In this edition of the story, Machete (Danny Trejo) is recruited by the President (an hilarious Charlie Sheen billed as Carlos Estevez) to go to Mexico and assassinate a crazed terrorist who is threatening to nuke America unless they help bring peace to Mexico.  What follows is a series of increasingly absurd action sequences that only seem to exist to up the ante in ways that Machete can kill bad guys. By the time he kills a guy by throwing his intestines into the rotating blades of a helicopter, you will know if you have the sense of humor (or the stomach) to watch the rest of the show.

Friday, March 28, 2014


It looks absolutely gorgeous, has some very cool action scenes and features a soundtrack by Tangerine Dream that still has the capacity to blow your mind as you watch the movie. On top of all that, though, this big screen debut from director Michael Mann also features an astounding performance from James Caan, the kind that even the actor (in the extras) calls one of his best. One scene in particular, where the thief (Caan) opens his heart to a woman (Tuesday Weld) in a brightly lit diner, is worth the price of the disc. The rest of the film is an action caper about the thief being blackmailed into doing a job for the local mob guys. When he is pushed too far, the way he stands up for his beliefs – the epitome of their actually being honor among thieves – gives the movie an edge that has only grown keener over the 32 years since its theatrical release.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Contradictions of Fair Hope

When is started, more than a century ago in rural Alabama, Fair Hope was a benevolent society that helped poor people in the community, generally newly freed slaves, by providing money for burial or other support when a family member became ill. Today, it’s…well, it’s something completely different, something that may have the founding members spinning in their graves. The organization itself is basically the same, it’s just that, over time the annual celebration and fundraiser for the charitable organization has evolved, or devolved if the truth be told. What was once a family affair where a few society members might have set up a grill to sell some fish to other society members, or where a few members might have snuck off into the woods to drink a bit or, heavens above, dance, has evolved into the single wildest party every known. Instead of a humble fish stall, there are now tents with strippers/prostitutes, tents where you can buy guns and tents where you can buy and use drugs. The film explores the greed that causes the change, but also takes a look at how the society uses that greed to stay alive. It’s both fearsome and fascinating.