Stuntman Steve’s Super Sized Movie Roundup


I feel a little strange labeling this as a DVD review column. A DVD review typically will include discussion of the extra features, specs, all that bullshit.  I will only talk about the movie.  By DVD review, I only mean that I am talking about a movie that is available on DVD.  Just so we’re clear.  Let’s start at the beginning with a movie that is not on DVD and is, in fact, still in theaters. 

Yea, I’m an asshole, what of it?




I’m talking, of course, about mo’fuckin Speed Racer, bitch!!  The only movie I’ve seen this summer (or even this year, I believe) in theaters is this, largely due to the fact that Damien won’t tolerate many things in a theater.  This and Wall-e are the only things I’ve been able to convince him to see so I’ve missed out on Iron Man (though it is sitting on my pc desktop unwatched right now….), I don’t give a shit about fuckin Indiana Jones…and that’s pretty much all that’s come out that I wanna see.  Except Funny Games, which is on DVD next week!

            I never watched the old Speed Racer cartoon, mainly because it was fucking stupid.  Going into the movie, the only thing that I thought needed to be included in the movie was the monkey, because that was the only thing I could ever find mildly entertaining about the show. 

            So, I learned a few things.  Speed Racers’ name actually is Speed Racer.  His Dad is named Pops Racer.  His Mom is Mom Racer.  This is just…I mean, how perfect is that?  I know I’m probably praising something that has been going on for the past 50 years, but I’m also giving praise to the Wachowskis for keeping it in the movie.

            Emile Hirsch is Speed, John Goodman is Pops.  I mention these two because they are utterly fantastic in general and especially great here.  You gotta remember that this is shot mainly on green screen, lots and lots of CGI in this one, and they own their roles.  Hirsch, looking not much like the grizzly renegade he played in Into the Wild, or the emo kid he played in Elephant, or the kid in that stupid looking Girl Next Door movie (which I never saw, so I am definitely being unfair) brings an uncanny amount of innocence and awe to the character that manages to make this so much more than the campy silly kids movie it could’ve been.  Goodman is a badass.  There are two fight scenes in the movie; one is a group fight that looks like one of the Matrix fights dipped in a rainbow, and a fight between Pops and a ninja.  My point is proven in this exchange:

After the fight with the ninja, Trixie, Speeds’ girlfriend, pops in the room and says,

“Was that a ninja?”

Pops kinda shrugs his shoulders in a noncommittal way, says,

“More like a non-ja”

YES!  That’s fuckin John Goodman!  Not many people can deliver a line like that and make it actually funny and cool (which is evident since when you read that you probably thought it was the corniest thing you’d ever heard,) but Goodman can.

            Overall, it’s a lot of fun.  It doesn’t strive to be anything more than popcorn entertainment and in that, it succeeds wildly.




            You know Richard Kelly, right?  The guy who wrote and directed Donnie Darko?  Have you seen his new movie Southland Tales?  If so, let me know how it is because I couldn’t get past the first 30 minutes.  The plot seems interesting enough being something about the end of the world and The Rock, but all the little ideas and images that were plastered on the screen just didn’t seem to ever mesh and start any semblance of a real story.  The few scenes I saw that involved actors engaged in acting in a story setting came across as phony and poorly written.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about experimental filmmaking, but it’s a fine line you’re walking.  It’s all about mood if you’re not creating a plot driven story and this failed on both counts.  Again, though, I didn’t see the entire film so if you want to give it a shot, I’m all for that.



            P.S., I Love You stars Hilary Swank.  Goddammit, I hate Hilary Swank.  Put in someone whose face doesn’t burn my eyeballs every time she smiles and this movie would be alright.  I’m not trying to be mean and I know that’s no way to fairly review a movie, but fuck if it doesn’t annoy the piss out of me.  The only movie I can think of where she wasn’t terrible was Boy’s Don’t Cry and that may be because she was a pissed off boy that never smiled.  I guess it’s worth watching, Gerard Butler is good, the story is alright, but there’s not much else to say.  For future reference you now know not to expect a decent or fair review of any Swank movie from me.



            And now for something really special!  Backwoods is a Gary Oldman and Paddy Considine starring “let’s get harassed by the locals in an unknown strange remote location” flick!  This is a direct to DVD release that was held back by Lionsgate initially, which is a shame as this is really good.  It’s a

UK film, so this is a little different spin on a familiar story because the villains in this one aren’t American hillbillies as is usually the case.  Here it’s a Spanish family who are engaged in some unsavory activities in an area near a cabin recently purchased by Oldman.  The two leads and their girlfriends (or wives’, not entirely sure which) are travelling to the cabin and encounter the evildoers in a pub.  Then they discover the evildoers hidden secret, and you can probably guess from there where this is going. 

            Simple story, but there’s a surprising amount of depth to the characters.  Considine and his wife are barely holding on to their relationship.  She obviously can barely stand to even be around him, which makes for an incredibly powerful last act when bonds of devotion are tested. 

            There is a fairly slow build in this, but it’s never slow.  Most of the movie is built upon character development.  I definitely recommend this one.  Great cast, great performances and a solid revenge tale with a theme of “how far is too far” or “at what point does the victim become the aggressor.”



            Now…..time for a little Cusack.  John Cusack is a damn fine actor.  He’s played characters that, for me, pretty much sum up who I feel like I am in a small neat two hour package.  Now, he has played a man who I hope to never, ever be.  In Grace is Gone he is a super conservative uptight strict father of two whose wife is killed in “the war.”  I say it like that because this is one of those movies that is sprinkled with politics and discussion about the current war situation.  Frankly, I don’t really give a shit about that and was able to look past and ignore that part of the movie.  The fact that Cusacks’ character is one that I would absolutely not get along with in real life is simply a testament to his ability as an actor, since I totally bought into and cared for his situation. 

            The plot centers around his efforts, after hearing of his wife’s death, to keep his daughters occupied and completely ignorant of the fact that they are now motherless. This sounds like a dreary depressing romp through suicideville, but it’s manages to be pretty entertaining.  His interactions with his daughters are realistic and not too sappy, and the movie never resorts to trying to hard to earn your sympathies. 

            This is a good movie regardless, but it’s especially good to see a side of Cusack that you haven’t really seen before.



            Up next, and closing out this ceremony, is George A Romeros’ Diary of the Dead.  This is one that causes some debate, apparently.  I’ve heard positive opinions, negative opinions, EXTREMELY negative opinions all due to the fact of that name at the beginning of the title: George A Romero. 

            Personally, I found this to be just fairly decent.  I don’t have much of an opinion, to be honest.  It managed to not really move me much one way or another.  I’ve seen better and worse zombie movies.  The most I can really say is that it is a waste that a new Romero zombie flick generates nothing more than a shrug. 

            I guess I have nothing else to say on this one.

            Jesus, that was long. 


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