Joel's Reviews

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Trouble with a capital "T"
I'm still keeping an eye on your thread Joel. But so far I haven't heard of any of the movies on this page. You watch some very different movies Then again I suppose we all do! I just watched Wagons East with the great John Candy. You seen that one?

Raw Deal - (1986)
Director: John Irving

This is one Schwarzenneger film I had avoided for decades because I remember seeing him drive around in a jeep during the opening of the film with a cigar, and blasting country music. I got turned off because Commando was such a great film that, tonally, Raw Deal seemed like a big misfire, and oddly put together.

After finally watching this movie from front to back I can say that it really wasn't bad. Arnold plays a heavily Austrian accented ex-FBI operative who is re-assigned to infiltrate a mob organization and gain their trust. He takes the job so he can make his cake baking lush wife happy and get them back to city life, stat!

Arnie gets made fun of a lot as not being able to act. This is not true at all. Arnold has major charisma and comic timing, as well as a good dramatic flair. The "issue" is his accent. It comes across wooden, having to deliver english lines so often. If you look at his face you can see his decent acting, but if you solely rely on his voice, you'll be fooled into thinking he's a garbage thespian. Ok well, thespian might be a stretch.

Raw Deal has tons of solid action and some great stunt work. The kills are appropriately messy and shameless, and the pacing is pretty tidy. It moves along well enough. I think the issue is in fact that the tone has no real identity. This is a scatterbrained film tonally. Also, the humor tries but misses the mark just about every time.

I watched this for a few nights before bed as I often do with movies and it was an OK action picture. It doesn't have that camp that Commando has, nor the manic action or incredible music score or comedy writing or hooks, but it does have a nice little niche as being an often overlooked Dino DeLaurentiis NC picture that takes place in Chicago, and believe it or not, almost, and I do mean almost, works with its romantic subplot.

Code of Silence (1985)
Director: Andrew Davis

Chuck Norris is a horrid actor, let's just get this out of the way. He's awful. The guy has no personality, and if he does, he's a master at hiding it. Usually, all we really see from Chuck is a sneer or a faint smile after delivering a well tailored comedy line of irony. He has this stoic expression at all times, in all of his films, usually of the very B picture variety.

Code of Silence has that same Chuck. Stone faced, flatlining with dynamic range, no soul.

But let me just say that Code of Silence is actually a very competent and decent film. Andrew Davis is an old pro director and he does things to the writing that tells the story commendably. Everything about the picture is solid. The action, the writing (which is sometimes a bit too complex with its many threads), and even the fusion jazz score helps with the gritty mood. But if I'm to praise something about the film as being its best component, it would be the comedy, and that is all because of Dennis Farina (Midnight Run, Manhunter). I knew right away that he wrote his own jokes. We see him hopping along on a pair of crutches after a pursuit. He's in a gym while his cop partner (Norris) is sparring. As he approaches Norris, a muscle bound personal trainer reaches for him to assist him with the crutches. Farina casually says "out of my way you side of beef". In a scene immediately after that, Norris asks Farina "how's the leg?"


Farina injects enough comedy gold to give this film a badge of honor, and help with a distinction of it being the only Chuck Norris film that surrounds the man that is solid and right.

But I cannot give all of the credit to Farina. I also have to give credit to the obvious ringleader in Andrew Davis. A little side note but, I once had to work on a backyard project where all of the actors were bad. Their lines were stagy and the writing was cardboard. When I went to edit the film, I had no choice but to use some b-roll footage of the actors when the camera would be rolling but the scene wasn't being played out. The actors would just be reacting to the people around them, and as far as anyone knew, it was just social hour. I'd have to use a squinty eye of someone reacting to someone else dropping a plate of macaroni salad, and then take that reaction and thread it into the film-itself to give the scene more dramatic weight and make it seem like the actor "meant to react that way", even though I essentially stole a candid shot that worked within the context of the film. Andrew Davis does this constantly with Chuck Norris. Never do we see a dialog scene across an office desk with both actors in the frame. It's simply an over the shoulder shot for each man to deliver his lines. You can see when the "other" guy is talking that Chuck has these almost convincing dramatic reactions to what this dude is saying. But I knew it wasn't done in real time, or within the scene. I knew it was candids used to inject some legitimacy into Chuck's barren wasteland of emotional vocabulary.

So, props to Davis for trying to milk a rock out of Norris for his otherwise solid action film.


The Florida Project (2017)
Director: Sean Baker

The Florida Project centers around a stripper who is "raising" her little girl while living in a motel. For a good portion of the movie, we follow around the area kids as they run through the streets and break into abandoned buildings to vandalize or just horse around. Many of the scenes are distanced, so, you'll see w ide shot from about 100 ft away, and the dialog will be that far away, too. You may not be able to clearly hear a lot of the dialog. This is not very important. This film works on a mood and atmosphere.

Willem Dafoe plays the motel manager. He comes across as a good guy who may be working on rebuilding a relationship with his estranged son who he hires on as his employee. That's enough backstory to have something to go on for Dafoe's character. Many times he is pounding on stripper-mom's door to instill obvious rules like "no more hooking" or "no smoking in the room", but as much as he comes off stern and strict, he never gives the impression that he is a spiteful or mean-spirited or jaded man. He takes his job seriously and has a degree of pride ("I'm going to fix that washer by the end of the week").

He watches out for the kids, even having to aggressively escort an old pervert off of the property. We see his rage in that brief moment where he calls out a criminal's number.

Dafoe is nothing short of outstanding in this film and I feel his subtlety is among his very best work.

While the mother hustles any way she can to provide for her daughter, it's clear that she has no real parenting skills when it comes to manners or conservative attitude. She swears, smokes and instigates as she would with anyone as manic and wild as she is. Her daughter knows nothing else but this world, hanging around these kinds of people who have no pretensions. It's all just gut and reaction, violence, glee and a dead beat way of life.

This is for sure a cautionary tale, but it also serves as a windmill of chance. The picture takes you wherever it goes. It hasn't set up rules for morality, even though there are certain notes that had me welling up with tears as I felt very heavy for the mother and daughter, who really did enjoy each other's company and loved each other very much. Dafoe's character recognizes this, and you can see it on his face, th pain he shares with them as he covertly tries to help them out without drawing attention to bending motel policies.

Director Baker's camera is a mixed bag of Arri Alexa and Filmic Pro from Iphone. The mix is beautiful. The colors of these motels across the way from one another, as well as the decrepit condos are staggeringly beautiful in a dayglo and pastel overload sort of way. I believe this was a multi format picture where Baker had his DP use an iphone 6s running Filmicpro, as well as an Alexa cinema cam, and then printed the final edit onto Kodak film, which really gives TFP a dense and rich look. This is my own personal answer to the stylings of Spring Breakers, another fulked up film that turned me off, unlike TFP, which made me perk up and enjoy the images and story.

The beauty in these perfectly photographed scenes are the perfect canvas for the children narrative, where they end up in rain storms sitting in a long haired tree, or a fireworks show, or just walking on the side of a main drag as the sun projects a green and purple flare across their silhouette sundown storybook master shot.

I'd see this again, though, it'd have to be a while because this is a bit of a disturbing drama. I don't like to see such a foul place for children, but then again, the kids make it work for themselves. I suppose at the end of the day, regardless of what "normal" people see in these "white trash" lifestyles, love rules supreme, even with the blisters of violence and danger abound. There is still an innocence, and what sinner can be brought to the gallows until they are clued in that what they are and what they do, is even considered a sin by someone else's loftier standards of living. Justice does prevail, but we are not left on a note of closure, we are left on an adrenalized flight of fancy with a very uncertain future.

"Waiting for Guffman" is quite possibly my favourite Chris Guest film it just about beats out "A mighty wind" for me as one of the best films he's ever made. it takes the Anti-humour formula that made his mokumentaries and really drives it to its logical conclusion. its colourful and silly and fun and wonderful and I love it

If you dig this style of comedy man you may really like Stewart Lee he's a stand up but he's done some really good stuff
My friend I am still waiting for you to dish out the goods. I know you're busy with vhs deliveries and I cannot wait to see what you've cooked up! Cheers!

My friend I am still waiting for you to dish out the goods. I know you're busy with vhs deliveries and I cannot wait to see what you've cooked up! Cheers!

Man I was literally working on it today Should be due around June time all being well (Its literally the longest review I've done to date xD)

Great to see someone else who's into 80's B-movies. There are lots of gems hidden in that pile like Liquid Sky. Will keep checking this thread out.
Thank you! I had a good time with Liquid Sky.

I quite like Code of Silence, probably my favorite Chuck Norris film after Delta Force. You may already know this, but Dennis Farina is a former Chicago cop.

Raw Deal is a rare Arnold flick I don't like and I also loved The Florida Project.

I was surprised at Code of Silence. Yeah, I knew Farina was a cop. That man was funny! Ever see his "The Last Rites of Joe May"? It's solid. He's great in it.

Delta that movie. Menahem Golan made a bit of a masterpiece, esp with the super tense hijacking first half of the film.

Dir: Luca Bervoci

This is not a good movie by any means but I have to bring to my own attention for posterity that Ghoulies deserves a place in history as having a strange appeal. This appeal would be the atmospheric locations within the film such as an old mansion and a cellar that seems perfectly suited for some satanic sorcery. It also has a distinction of being a "so bad it's insane" component to it. The acting ranges from competent to completely stupid. Nothing is really funny even though the laughs want to have you join in so badly. No. It's crap.

The effects are decent, and they come from John Carl Buechler, who did Troll's effects as well as many other Full Moon Features. I like glowing eyes and other glowing things. I like analog effects, sue me.

The music fit nicely in this one. Richard Band, (popular?) for ripping off Bernard Hermann's Psycho score for his Re-Animator theme, once again puts on his thick stringed ensemble to a moody set.
There are peculiar layers to Ghoulies. It's not as commercially silly as one might expect from the poster or vhs cover art. The focus is on the mansion and the inhabitants, and much less on the actual creatures, although we do see more of the creatures near the end and in the following sequels. This film is very dark and probably legitimately satanic. But..I still like it. It's just a crazy little film.

Dir: Robert Townsend

There's plenty to laugh at in this un PC comedy about black stereotypes in the cinema.

Townsend writes, directs and stars in his own little movie that employs many future stars and tons of hilarious bits. Although I didn't feel that the subject matter was 100% relevant (even for 1987), it did make its point, even if that point was sometimes overshadowed by other things that kind of cancelled it out.

Hey, you're an adult, you figure it out, OK?

I'd say that fans of The Kentucky Fried Movie, The Groove Tube, and Amazon Women on the Moon will have plenty to mull over here. It's a fun movie with a few brief heartbeats, and plenty of dated corn that makes it fun and innocent.

It's odd but, comedy isn't like this anymore, and I don't think that's a good thing, either.


What a weird movie this is. Ken Russell, who's done some very polarizing efforts, has done it again with this film that actually stars Hugh Grant!

It's a funny movie with odd effects and odd staging. It has beautiful locations, and ridiculous asides that might make one scratch their heads asking the question "did he mean to do that?"

Chances are, yes...he did.

Quick plot: archaeologists discover a skeletal worm creature head and soon find out that their desolate farmhouse next door neighbor is a vixen bitch bent on salvaging the remains and taking over their commune for her own worm-like greed.

Say what?

Hey, I didn't write the f#cking thing, Ok?

You'll get very strange things happening here, like a dream, but still awake enough to almost bore you. The thing is, that you have to stick around because things get progressively more weird as the film unravels. And believe unravels.


DIR: Ben Stiller

I used to dismiss this movie like no one's business. I thought it was just OK and yawned at the mere mention of it. Upon watching it again I have discovered that it is a bit of a good film thanks to Stiller's direction and editing guidance as well as Jim Carrey's manic energy which reminds me of a musical prodigy. He's on fire here, especially when he mimics an old Star Trek episode and plays a schizophrenic "friend" when battling Broderick's character publicly, at a restaurant themed as a medieval coliseum.

At times The Cable Guy goes into that foul and dated 1990's place where the music tries to be trendy but backfires on itself, but, there are some good scenes, namely when the camera dollies elegantly along side the front position of a couch where Broderick and his ex girlfriend are reacquainting for a post break up movie date at home. There is some skill on display here. Stiller defintely has chops he was working out, and has yet to make into a prize film.

I enjoyed this a lot for round 4 since 1996. I'd recommend it.


Pollock (2000)
dir: Ed Harris

Ed Harris was born to play this role and to make this movie. His study and boot camp pilgrimage feats to actually become a painter to "do his own stunts" are nothing short of inspiring.

We get a visceral image of who Jackson Pollock was. The troubled soul. The alcoholic. The artist. He abused and ridiculed himself like a child, throwing tantrums and breaking beer bottles on a country road after falling off of his bike with a case in hand.

Ed Harris is Pollock. Ed Harris actually paints in the film. We see no trickery. His hand guides the chalk alongside the blots on canvas. He throws his buckets and swashes his brushes. He took the better part of ten years to realize his preoccupation with the legendary american original.

Of course the performances are all sound, and I wish I could say that this film avoided the usual pitfalls of a Hollywood production, but it doesn't completely. Harris has been in the biz for decades get his financing, he had to put asses in the seats. For this I will say that I only noticed obvious things to me, such as a maybe overdone score that seemed too whimsical, and maybe some obvious melodrama, like when Pollock's family plays the guilt card and takes him to task for being a braggart about his fame at a post six figure get together.

Other than that, ..perfect film. It really, really delves into the process and the mechanics of an artist. There isn't an unequal measurement between drama and technique. We
this guy paint, and it's beautiful!

Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
Dir: Woody Allen

One of my new faves from Woody Allen. It's like this perfect storm of writing, casting and nuance between comedy and drama. Michael Caine really puts this movie in its place because his usual charm is utilized so well with the forbidden romance he has for his wife's sister.

The direction is flawless. The timing and staging of scenes seem effortless and natural but a trained eye will see that this took a lot of preparation, and for that I really appreciate it even more.

Dianne Weist kind of steals the movie, but then again, so does Barbara Hershey, who looks beautiful here, and one can certainly see why she would be the object of affection for any older man, or any younger gent who has common sense. Her simple yet complex aura comes out with straightforward dialog carefully outlined by a devastating sex appeal that can only occur when you get the real thing in front of the lens, and that's her.

If I had one complaint, it'd be Woody Allen's icky final scene of him kissing all over his new wife (I won't spoil it). It just seems too gratuitous, and I can't imagine how anyone would want that wormy dude necking on them so slimy like he does. But hey! He won tons of awards's OK!

into the night (1985)
dir: John Landis

Jeff Goldblum goes into a nighttime adventure when he catches his wife being unfaithful. He meets Michelle Pfeifer and things go nutty because she's involved in smuggling gems from some bad dudes who want them. Ok, so it's a caper.

There's nothing inherently special about this film other than the mood it sets. This film is perfectly at home on laserdisc on a big screen tv in a refinished basement with a big bag of chips and salsa with some realistic radio shack brand stereo speakers being pumped by a technics receiver.

It's a star studded film that features heavy cameos, but somehow this doesn't really detract from the general premise of proceedings. The movie has real sense of place. I loved the moody shots of the diner in the middle of the night. It was magical. A better script it may have needed, but it's too late now. PRINT!

I enjoyed this movie even though many things were evident about it that pointed to the toilet. It's unbalanced. One minute it's a goofy comedy, and the next it turns into a dark and violent thriller. Something Wild this is not.

Landis at times can wrangle up a good movie that hits all of the notes and really leaves a lasting impression and warrants repeat viewings. This is not one of those films, although I will say, I may watch this again someday. There's just something about it I can't really put my finger on other than what I've already mentioned about it being the perfect laserdisc film in a refinished basement with snacks.

Oh wait. Michelle Pfeiffer walks across screen nude..and she is sofa king HOT!