Hottie of the Day: Jessica Burciaga


JESSICA BURCIAGA

For our latest Hottie of the Day we have Mr. Hefner to thank for discovering her and sharing her with the public.

Ms. Jessica Burciaga was Playboy‘s Playmate of the Month for January 2009 and very deserving of the honor. This 26 year-old model is quite the hodgepodge in the racial diversity. Born of a Mexican father and a French-Irish mother, Ms. Burciaga burst into the scene as a model. She started off doing bit parts for tv shows and appearing in music videos. While doing oddjobs here and there to support her way through junior college she landed a photoshoot job for the magazine Stuff. This break in her career soon had her appearing on other magazines such as Maxim, Modified Mag, Latino Future and Open Your Eyes. She was also picked to work at The Palms’ Playboy Club in Las Vegas in 2006. A couple years later she will become an official model of Chynna Dolls Bikinis. Before finally becoming an official Playmate she would appear as a spokesmodel for Miss Copa Swimwear and Hot Import Nights.

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Review: Grindhouse (dir. by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino)


Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino have always professed to anyone within hearing distance their extreme and fanboyish love for the grindhouse days of filmmaking. Both directors’ resume of work look like a modern grindhouse films but with better writing, effects and directing. Anyone who grew up watching grindhouse film’s of the 70’s and 80’s can see it’s heavy influence on films such as From Dusk Til Dawn, Desperado, Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill. With 2007’s Grindhouse, both Rodriguez and Tarantino take their fanboy love for all things grindhouse and exploitation to a whole new level with personal take on the cheap John Carpenter-knock offs, zombie gorefests, slasher film and revenge-driven flicks that made being a young kid during the 70’s and 80’s quite enjoyable.

For those who do not know what grindhouse films are they’re the ultra-cheap and, most of the time, very bad, shlocky horror, revenge, softcore porn, badly-dubbed kung fu flicks and a myriad of other B- to Z-grade movies. These movies were shown in dingy, decrepit (usually former burlesque stagehouses) movie houses which showed double to triple-bills of titles for a low, cheap price all day long (where the popcorn and concession snacks were as stale as week-old coffee). These places and their films were book-ended by the cheap drive-in theaters which grew out of the suburban sprawl boom era of the 60’s and 70’s. One could not avoid the fact that the projector equipment were in bad shape and in desperate need of maintenance while the films played out. Then there’s the film reels themselves with their washed out sequences, out of focus scenes, burnt-in spots and missing film reels where the sex scenes would’ve been. This was the grindhouse experience and with the rise of Hollywood as a corporate entity even moreso than it’s been in the past and urban renewal projects by big city leaders, the grindhouse experience has pretty much faded away and kept alive only in the memories of its fans worldwide.

What Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino have cranked out with their three-hour long opus to those grindhouse days has been both a literal and thematic homage to an era long since gone. Grindhouse also has allowed Rodriguez and Tarantino to pull out all the stops in filming their respective halves of the film. Rodriguez went all-out in paying literal homage to the zombie gore-fests of George A. Romero, Lucio Fulci and Umberto Lenzi. Planet Terror plays like a hodgepodge of all the zombie movies from these masters of the walking dead but Rodriguez has the use of digital effects to match the over-the-top feel of the past zombie-fests without making the effects look too cheap.

The story for Planet Terror is quite simple yet full of so many incoherent subplots that trying to keep track with whats going on would just confuse a viewer even more. Rodriguez gets the grindhouse feel with such a ludicrous storyline. Whether it was done on purpose or not, the feeling of confusion in addition to the non-stop zombie action was only compounded even more by the digitally-added film stock scratches, burns to the edges of the reel and when the movie was about to get all hot and sexy, missing reel footage. Anyone who watched movies in grindhouse theaters would recognize the look quite well. Rodriguez goes all out in letting his zombie fanboy out. The violence in Planet Terror begins strong and just gets stronger and even more over-the-top right up to the final frame. Zombie’s getting their heads blown apart is shown in scratchy, loving detail with an impossible amount of blood, bone and brain for people to gawk at. The female characters are hot and sexy. Rose McGowan as Cherry Darling holds Planet Terror together with her spunky go-go dancer dreaming to be a stand-up comedienne turning into Ellen Ripley minus a leg but gaining an M16A3 w/ M203 grenade launcher as a leg prosthetic. Freddy Rodriguez as El Wray, her wayward and mysterious lover, almost seem to be channeling a hilariously bad version of Snake Plissken. These two make for quite the explosive couple as they must try and save their small Texas town from the infected townspeople turned pus-oozing, boil-ridden zombies.

Planet Terror sports a nice collection of current B-list actors like Josh Brolin (making like a Nick Nolte at his growliest) and Marley Shelton as a pair of married doctors with marital problems compounded by the increasing amount of zombies their hospital seem to be bringing in for medical help. There’s also genre veterans Michael Biehn, Jeff Fahey and Tom Savini to give Planet Terror the appropriate grindhouse look and feel to it. Ever the good friend and buddy collaborator, Rodriguez even gives Quentin Tarantino a role in his half of the film. He’s shown in the credits for Planet Terror as The Rapist. If any director seem destined to be one, if their love for movies didn’t steer them on the right path, Tarantino seem to look just like one to be called “Tha Rapist”.

There’s explosion and gore galore in Rodriguez’s ode to the zombie genre. Some who sees it might say there’s too much and they would be right if the title of the whole film wasn’t Grindhouse. I, for one, am glad Rodriguez decided to not hold back with what he threw onto the screen. I’m sure that when the dvd finally comes out and the unedited full version of Planet Terror is shown it’ll even surpass the 85-minute running time in the film. I think I can forgive Rodriguez for his gore excess and at times I actually wished for more, but then that would mean taking even more time before I get to Tarantino’s half of the movie. Planet Terror truly got the look of a grindhouse flick, but it’s Tarantino’s Death Proof half which got the spirit of grindhouse down to near-perfect.

Before Tarantino’s Death Proof half of Grindhouse begins the audience gets treated to a sort of intermission involving three fake trailers for movies which celebrate just how ridiculously fun grindhouse movies really were during the 70’s and 80’s. There’s Rob Zombie’s Werewolf Women of the SS which was this weird mish-mash of the women-in-prison flicks with that of the infamous Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS films that brought about the exploitation in grindhouse. This trailer was great just for the inspired casting of Nicolas Cage as Fu Manchu and Sybil Danning as one of the so-called SS women werewolves. There’s also Edgar Wright’s fake trailer for Don’t (director of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) which parodies the trailers for all the gothic, European haunted and horror movies where none of the actors in the trailer speak a word to make sure the film doesn’t get labeled as a “foreign film”. But it’s the third trailer in that intermission trio which had everyone in the audience reacting wildly.

Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving is a throwback to the seasonal-themed slasher flicks like Black Christmas but this time turns the yearly, turkey day and Pilgrim celebration into a trailer with some of the most disturbingly inventive scenes for a fake slasher movie. I don’t know what the Pilgrim serial killer was doing with that turkey at the end of the trailer but I’m sure it will have many people talking about it afterwards. It’s this Eli Roth trailer which fully captures the gritty and gratuitious nature of what makes a grindhouse horror movie. It’s also the one fake trailer I hope Roth would re-visit and turn into a full-length movie.

Now, with the trailers out of the way, Tarantino’s half of Grindhouse begins and we’re treated to a different take on the grindhouse experience. Death Proof begins as if it will continue Rodriguez’s literal examination and homage to the grindhouse experience, but after messing with the film’s focus, adding a few film scratches to the celluloid and even adding a missing reel gag, Tarantino suddenly slows all those grindhouse trickeries and actually ends up making a rip-roaring slasher-revenge-carchase flick. Tarantino takes one part slasher movie adds in a heavy dose of his own Reservoir Dogs (the talking between the female characters in Death Proof are as foul-mouthed and trivial as the diner scene in Reservoir Dogs) then mixes in equal amounts of Vanishing Point, Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and I Spit On Your Grave. Instead of just mimicking these particular grindhouse classics, Tarantino uses his own flair for extended dialogue to slow down the pace of the film thus lulling the audience for the two pay-offs which happen in the middle and the end of Death Proof. Tarantino’s half of Grindhouse could’ve went nowhere with all its estrogen-laced talkies, but Kurt “I AM SNAKE PLISSKEN” Russell really saves the day once he makes his appearance as the automotive-themed serial killer, Stuntman Mike. Where Jason uses farming and bladed implements as his tool of the serial killing trade, Stuntman Mike uses both a 1971 Chevy Nova SS and a 1970 Dodge Charger R/T 440 as his weapons of choice. Both vehicles have been made death proof for filming violent car stunt sequences, but in order to appreciate it’s unique life-saving properties then one has to sit where Mike sits.

Kurt Russell can now add Stuntman Mike to his classic list of badass roles. Mike would feel quite welcome amongst the like of Snake Plissken, John J. MacReady, and Jack Burton to name a few of Russell’s classic characters. Mike comes across as cooly and slickly dangerous, yet not psychotic. His charm is quite disarming until it turns deadly. He really takes the slasher-character stereotype and turns it on its ear. Death Proof once again shows that when Tarantino gets to work with one of his boyhood idols he really gives them a role that they could sink their teeth into.

Death Proof captures the spirit of what makes a grindhouse exploitation film. Even with the heavy references to Vanishing Point, especially with a white 70’s Dodge Challenger used just like in that movie, Tarantino still injects his own brand of craziness to the whole movie. I know many who have complained that Death Proof was too much talk with only the car chase in the end being the saving grace. I politely disagree and say that it’s that very long periods of dialogue between the women in Death Proof that brings some of the spirit of grindhouse to the story. Many forget or don’t remember that most grindhouse cheapies had so much extraneous dialogue to hide the fact that the budget was low to none when the movies were being made so they had to fill-up the movie’s running time with as much nonsensical dialogue before the big effect shots payoff.

The final chase-scene between the Russell’s Stuntman Mike and the female-trio of Rosario Dawson, Tracie Thoms (channeling Jules from Pulp Fiction) and real-life stuntwoman Zoe Bell (she doubled as Uma Thurman in the more dangerous stunts in Kill Bill) has to go down as one of the craziest, whiteknuckling, barnburning car chase sequences of the modern times. No CGI-effects trickery and fancy MTV-style editing was used. George Miller, John Frankenheimer and Richard Sarafian would be proud of what Tarantino was able to accomplish with Death Proof‘s 20-minute long car chase. By the time Death Proof ends the audience have bee put through the wringer and one was hard-pressed not to cheer and root for Stuntman Mike even though we know we shouldn’t. Death Proof proves that “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” or at least a trio of women endangered.

Grindhouse is a film not for everyone. There’s going to be quite a few people who won’t “get” the film homages and references by both Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. Some would say that the movie was too over-the-top, badly made and just out there, but then they would be missing the point of the whole project altogether. For those who grew up watching these kind of films as kids and teenagers, it’s a belated Valentine’s gift from two fanboy filmmakers who finally were able to do the films they grew up idolizing and enjoying. For the rest who are not as well-versed in the grindhouse cinema, this is a good enough starter before they move on to try the classic ones which are now on video (I would suggest they find a worn-out VHS copy of it instead of the cleaned up DVD version). The film is over three-hours long, but one who goes in really can’t say that they didn’t get their money’s worth when they went in to watch Grindhouse.

Song of the Day: Feeling Good (by Nina Simone)


I just realized that I haven’t picked a song from the jazz corner. I think I have just the song to fix that problem.

Song of the day comes courtesy of the one and only Nina Simone and her jazz cover of the Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse song, “Feeling Good”. This song is just smooth cool from start to finish and why jazz singers will always have a special place in my music collection. Nina Simone croons and sings the devil out of this song. When the song segues smoothly from Simone’s acapella section in the beginning to the smoky and sultry way the horns starts off the song proper one cannot help but nod their head to the beat.

The song is pretty brief, but for a little under 3 minutes one can and will fall in love not just with Nina Simone’s singing but jazz music as well.

Feeling Good

Birds flying high you know how I feel
Sun in the sky you know how I feel
Reeds driftin on by you know how I feel

(refrain:)
Its a new dawn
Its a new day
Its a new life
For me
And Im feeling good

Fish in the sea you know how I feel
River running free you know how I feel
Blossom in the tree you know how I feel

(refrain)

Dragonfly out in the sun you know what I mean, dont you know
Butterflies all havin fun you know what I mean
Sleep in peace when day is done
Thats what I mean

And this old world is a new world
And a bold world
For me

Stars when you shine you know how I feel
Scent of the pine you know how I feel
Oh freedom is mine
And I know how I feel

Review: Evilspeak (dir. by Eric Weston)


I first came across Evilspeak a few months ago when I was browsing through the selection of used DVDs at the Movie Trading Company in Plano, Texas.  Why did I feel so compelled to buy this movie that I had previously never heard of?  Of course, a lot of it was due to the fact that Evilspeak was a horror movie.  I have to admit that the vagueness of the title intrigued me.  I’ve long been planning on writing the ultimate slasher film and giving it the similarly vague title of Deathurge.  It also helped that the Evilspeak DVD was released by Anchor Bay and that it only cost $1.99.

A few nights ago, I sat down and watched Evilspeak for the first time.    It turned out to be, in many ways, typical of the horror films that were released in the early 80s.  (Evilspeak came out in 1981.)  However, thanks to a strong lead performance from Clint Howard and a few surprisingly dark touches on the part of director Eric Weston, Evilspeak turns out to be an oddly compelling little horror film.

Evilspeak opens with a lengthy prologue in which we see a Satanist named Esteban beheaded, along with several of his followers, by the Spanish Inquisition.  Jump forward several hundred years to a soccer game being played by teams representing two separate military academies.  The players are all typical jocks except for one pudgy, awkward fellow named Stanley Coopersmith (played by a very young Clint Howard).  Coopersmith manages to lose the game for his team.  The team’s angry response establishes that 1) this is not the 1st game that Coopersmith has lost and 2) all of his teammates are apparently psychotic.  His fellow players complain to their coach about Coopersmith’s lack of ability.  The coach replies that school policy requires that Coopersmith be allowed to play but if Coopersmith were to suffer some sort of injury (hint, hint) then they wouldn’t have to worry about school policy.  Seriously, has anything good ever come from soccer?

In many ways, Stanley Coopersmith might seem typical of the horror movie pariahs who always seem to end up asking Satan to kill their peers.  However, there are a few things that set Stanley apart.

First of all, he has one of the best last names in film history.  Coopersmith.  Just say it five times straight and see if it doesn’t get stuck in your head.  I’ve known plenty of Coopers and more than a few Smiths but I’ve never known a Coopersmith.  At first, I thought that maybe Stanley had one of those really cool hyphenated names and I was instantly jealous.  I’ve always wished my mom had done that when she got married so I could introduce myself as “Lisa Marie Marchi-Bowman.”  Of course, it’s probably for the best that she didn’t because if she had, I would have become obsessed with finding a mate with a hyphenated last name of his own just to see how long I could eventually make my last name.  But I digress.  Even though the film clearly establishes that there is not hyphen in Coopersmith, it’s still a great name.  When Stanley’s classmates insist on calling him “Cooperdick,” it just makes them all the more loathsome because not only are the insulting Stanley but they’re failing to recognize the beauty of a good name.

The other thing that sets Stanley apart from other movie outcasts is that he actually looks like an outcast.  He’s not a teen idol wearing a bad wig and prop glasses.  This is largely because Stanley Coopersmith is played by Clint Howard (as opposed to Ron Howard).  Pudgy with visible acne and a somewhat whiny voice, Clint Howard transforms Stanley Coopersmith into every kid that you ever felt sorry for but never dared to befriend.  Watching the movie, you feel sorry for Stanley but you never quite like him.  You’re on his side because every other character in the movie appears to be subhuman.

The film follows Stanley as he is continually attacked and humiliated by basically everyone else in the entire movie.  Now, as someone who did time at more than one Catholic school, I have personally experienced the fact that private schools really are a world of their own.  That said, however, Evilspeak’s military academy appears to be less a school and more some sort of elaborate and sadistic sociological experiment.  Seriously, is there anyone at this school who isn’t obsessed with tormenting Stanley?  (Actually, Stanley does have one friend but he’s kinda useless.)

Of course, one of the school’s problems might be that it has apparently been built on land that was once owned by — you guessed it — Esteban!  As the film opens, Coopersmith has found himself assigned to clean up the school’s chapel as part of a “punishment detail.”  While doing this, Coopersmith happens to stumble upon Esteban’s tomb and, in that tomb, he finds a lot of candles, what appears to be a fetus in a jar, and a black book that happens to have a Satanic symbol on the cover.  Intrigued, Coopersmith steals the book despite the fact that it’s written in Latin.

Luckily, this school has a computer!  Admittedly, Evilspeak came out four years before I was born so perhaps I’m not capable of understanding what the world was like in the early 80s.  Still, I’m always amazed to see the awe that computers were apparently regarded with back then.  Apparently, at the time, a personal computer was the ultimate elite status symbol.  All one needed to rule the world apparently was one bulky computer.  Fortunately, Coopersmith doesn’t want to rule the world.  He just wants to read his book.  He does this by typing the latin phrases into the computer and magically getting an English translation in response.  Thanks to his magic computer, Coopersmith discovers that the book was written by Esteban and  that Esteban worshipped Satan.

Coopersmith, of course, is amazed to discover this but we, the viewers are not.  After all, we’ve already sat through the entire prologue.  Unfortunately, it takes Coopersmith almost the entire movie to catch up to where we are from the beginning.  Fortunately, Clint Howard gives a good enough performance to keep the movie vaguely interesting even when it starts to drag.

Fortunately, after Coopersmith gets his translation, the action starts to pick up a bit.  For one thing, the book is stolen by the headmaster’s secretary (who, in an amusingly odd moment, smiles to herself as she listens to the headmaster paddling Coopersmith in his office).  For another thing, Coopersmith decides to get back at his enemies by conducting a black mass.  He does this by turning on his computer (which has now somehow been moved down to the tomb) and asking what he needs for a black mass.  Naturally enough, the computer tells him because it’s a computer and it knows everything.

But before Coopersmith can perform his black mass, he still has to be humiliated a few hundred more times by his classmates.  He also has to deal with a drunk janitor (played by R.G. Armstrong).  On top of that, he adopts a puppy.  Unfortunately, since Coopersmith is the school outcast, that also means that the puppy is fair game too.  After one night of heavy drinking, Coopersmith’s classmates (led by a kid named Bubba, so you know he’s evil) find his hideaway in the tomb and, for reasons that don’t quite make sense, they sacrifice his puppy.

(At this point, I was wondering if maybe it would turn out that the military academy was actually an insane asylum.  I mean, seriously —  on which level of Hell is this place located?)

Meanwhile, you remember that sadistic secretary that stole Coopersmith’s book?  Well, for whatever reason, she is obsessed with trying to pry that Satanic symbol off the cover.  Unfortunately, since she’s the only prominent female in an early 80s horror movie, this can only mean that she’s destined to meet a bloody end while taking a shower.  Which, in this movie’s best known scene, is exactly what happens.  However, she doesn’t meet her end at the hands of a knife-wielding psycho.  Instead, she’s attacked and ripped to pieces by a bunch of rampaging pigs.  And yes, the whole thing is faintly ludicrous and yes, the low-budget gore effects are undeniably crude, but it’s still an undeniably effective sequence.  Perhaps its due to the fact that pigs, in general, are filthy.  Don’t even get me started on pigs.  However, it must also be admitted that, though his direction is often time uninspired, Eric Weston shows an undeniable talent for capturing chaos.  I am not ashamed to admit that I had pig-related nightmares after seeing this movie.

Following the death of the secretary, the book mysteriously reappears in Esteban’s tomb.  Coopersmith finds it the next morning along with the corpse of his puppy.  Obviously, this is all it takes for Coopersmith (with the help of his computer) to carry out his black mass and to finally take his revenge.

Of course, the whole point of a Nerd-With-Powers movie is the finale where that nerd takes vengeance on his tormentors.  If this scene is pulled off with even the slightest amount of panache, it can make up for almost everything that’s come before it.  The prom inferno from Carrie pretty much set the standard by which all others are judged.  Personally, it’s hard for me to think of any movie that could improve on the final house party massacre in The Rage: Carrie 2.  After all, how can you top a blinded Rachel Blanchard accidentally shooting the oldest Home Improvement kid in the balls with a spear gun?

Evilspeak doesn’t quite reach those heights in its finale but it’s still pretty effective.  If nothing else, the sight of Clint Howard wielding a sword while flying above his tormentors is a lot more effective than you might think.  Over the next few minutes, spikes are drilled into foreheads, heads are chopped off, hearts are ripped out of chests, and those pigs show up again.  The gore effects here are undeniably crude but oddly effective.  This sequence (along with the previous pig shower attack) actually inspired a few nightmares the night after I saw Evilspeak.

In the end, Evilspeak is an odd little movie.  While the plot should be familiar to anyone who has ever seen a horror film, there’s a real nastiness at the core of Evilspeak that distinguishes it from other genre offerings that came out during the same period.  At times, Evilspeak almost feels like an Italian film which is probably why I found it to be so oddly compelling.

The Evilspeak DVD features a commentary track featuring both Clint Howard and the film’s director.  I always feel some trepidation before listening to a commentary track.  Too often, the track turns out to just be some jerk explaining how he financed the film for two hours while commenting not at all on the action on-screen.  (For the most part, if a commentary track features any anecdote that begins with, “We had the same lawyer…” you know you’re in trouble.)  However, the Evilspeak track is surprisingly enjoyable.  Clint Howard comes across as a surprisingly likable, levelheaded guy and its interesting to contrast his odd wholesomeness with the action onscreen.

In the end, Evilspeak may be a piece of junk but it’s an enjoyable piece of junk.

Halo Reach: Live-Action Trailer “Birth of a Spartan”


Gamers of the past 5 years pretty much have seen gaming publishers go all-out to advertise their AAA titles to the public whether one was a gamer or not. The first to do so was Microsoft and Bungie Studios to help market the third game in their very popular and blockbuster-selling first-person shooter franchise, Halo. It was in marketing Halo 3 where we see live-action short films that helps build the hype and buzz for the game. Halo 3 was going to sell millions whether these short films turned commercials were made or not, but the fact that they were and the gaming community love them shows that the gaming industry was starting to think of itself as akin to the film industry. These were literally live-action trailers for games.

Three of the Halo 3 live-action trailers were directed by a young South African bloke who calls himself Neill Blomkamp. Halo 3: ODST came out with a couple of live-action trailers with one lasting a whopping 2.5 minutes long. This particular trailer had a Saving Private Ryan vibe to it and was actually critically-acclaimed in the advertising and marketing industry. Now, we have the final Halo title from Bungie Studios and the first live-action trailer has popped up. This is not even the trailer for the full-game out later this fall, but a trailer for the multiplayer beta which will begin in May 2010. This live-action trailer is titled “Birth of a Spartan” and shows a glimpse at how the Spartans (super-soldiers in the Halo universe are created).

The trailer looks great. It has a very futuristic clean look to it and even brings to mind military sci-fi influences. With the game still months from seeing it’s initial release I hope they continue to make these live-action trailers. These really are some of the best game trailers out there. Below are some of the previous live-action trailers that had been made for the other titles in the franchise.

A Second Review of The Losers (dir. by Sylvain White)


Usually, I’m not a big fan of action movies.  If you see me in the audience of an action movie, it means that I’m either 1) on a date with a guy who really doesn’t care if I’m bored out of my skull, 2) the movie is actually a film with action as opposed to an action film, or 3) there’s absolutely nothing else playing.  It was because of that third reason that yesterday afternoon, I could be found at the Regal Keystone, watching The Losers.

Surprisingly enough, however, I ended up enjoying The Losers.

Why?

Six words: Idris Elba, Jason Patric, and teddy bear.

Idris Elba.  Oh God, where to start?  I think Idris Elba may be one of the best actors working today.  If you’ve seen him in The Wire then you’ve seen him as an intimidator.  (And, admit it, The Wire was never as good after Stringer Bell got killed.)  If you’ve seen him on The Office than you know that Elba can also be unexpectedly funny.  In the Losers, Elba gets to be both scary and funny at the same time.  (And incredibly sexy though I doubt that’s going to be a big selling point for this film’s target audience.)  Idris Elba manages to look convincing while both blowing things up and, during one of the film’s many postmodern moments, commenting, “Wow, this is sleazy.”

Elba plays Rocque, the second-in-command of a paramilitary group known as the Losers.  Much like the A-Team and the Expendables (both of which will be coming along later this year), the Losers are betrayed by their government and wrong declared dead.  They — a glowering Elba included — find themselves stranded in Bolivia where they pass the time working in a doll factory, betting on cockfights, and plotting vengeance against Max.

Who is Max?  This question is at the center of The Losers and it’s never really answered (perhaps it will be in the sequel).  It’s insinuated throughout the film that he’s involved with the CIA, that he’s a terrorist, or that he’s just a patriotic businessman.  Of course, the answer is that Max is actually Jason Patric (a.k.a. the son of Father Damien Karras). 

I have to admit that, in  the past, Patric has never really impressed me much as an actor.  In the past, he’s always seemed a bit stiff and humorless.  Patric plays Max as a man who is not only a comic book villain but who is totally aware of it as well.  You can tell that Max is having a lot of fun being evil and that Patric is having fun playing evil.  Patric’s over-the-top but compelling villainy let’s the audience know that this movie has no pretensions beyond entertainment.  It makes both Patric and the film enjoyable to watch.

And this leads us to the teddy bear.

At the start of the movie, the Losers are rescuing a bunch of children who are being held hostage by some random bad guy in Bolivia.  As they load the thankful children into a waiting helicopter, an angelic little boy attempts to hand over his teddy bear as a thank you gift.

“No,” Col. Clay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) replies, “you keep it.  It will bring you luck.”

The angelic child smiles and clutching his teddy bear, he goes into the helicopter.  The helicopter then lifts up into the air and promptly explodes.  As the Losers stare at the burning wreckage, the camera zooms in on the only thing that apparently wasn’t incinerated in the explosion. 

Yes, it’s the teddy bear.

And as soon as I saw that, I knew that the Losers was going to work.  I soon as I saw that teddy bear, I knew that this was a film that felt no shame at being a work of pure pulp fiction.  In this age when every studio film is trying to feel independent and when most filmmakers would be too self-consciously hip to actually do something as shameless as show that little bear among the wreckage, the Losers went for it.  The Losers said, “We don’t care if it’s an obvious move and thoroughly illogical for a teddy bear to survive — with just a few burns — an explosion that so totally incinerated 25 people that not a single body part is seen among the wreckage.  We’re showing the damn bear!”

That’s when the Losers won me over.

A few more random thoughts on The Losers:

1) As Arleigh pointed out in his review, one of the film’s biggest strengths is the chemistry of the Losers themselves.  As opposed to most ensemble action films, all of the Losers are given clearly definable personalities, all of them are given something important to do, and most importantly, you believe that these guys would actually choose to hang out together.  When one of the Losers is eventually revealed to be a traitor, you feel the entire group’s shock and pain.  This adds an extra layer to the film that, for whatever reason, I suspect we won’t be seeing with The A-Team.

2) The Losers is yet another film that demonstrates the importance of not only walking in slow motion but having something to throw to the side while doing so.  It just looks incredibly cool on-screen though people tend to get annoyed when you attempt to do the same thing in real life.

3) Throughout the movie, we are continually told that The Losers are waging war on the CIA and the American establishment in general.  The audience I was with loved this.  Once again, this validates my theory that the best reflection of the times can usually be found in contemporary pulp.

4) Zoe Saldana is in this film too as a mysterious woman who helps the Losers track down Max.  In the style of Carrie-Ann Moss and the Girl with the dragon tattoo, she gets a chance to kick a lot of ass and I have to admit that I found this so inspiring that, once I got home, I stripped down to my undies, stood in front of my bedroom mirror, and attempted to execute a few flying kicks of my own.  The lesson I learned from this is that I’m not Zoe Saldana.  That and, regardless of how soft the carpet is, it still hurts when you end up falling flat on your ass.

In the end, The Loser is the perfect definition of stupid fun.  I’ll take stupidly fun over funny stupidity any day.

Hottie of the Day: Zuleyka Silver


ZULEYKA SILVER

Our newest Hottie of the Day is the delectable Ms. Zuleyka Silver.

A Puerto Rican/Brazilian teen beauty who is quickly becoming more noticed by the general public at large. She has done mostly modeling work for fashion shows. Fashion shows in Los Angeles and Miami being two of most common destinations for these fashion show gigs. Ms. Silver has also done modeling work for store print ads for such companies as Verizon Wireless, Talbots and Wal-Mart. Her tv and film work has mostly been on cable shows on MTV such as Dogg After Dark. She has also done work on an NBC pilot titled The Strip.

While she hasn’t done much major work in her young career as a model her popularity still continues to rise as she makes her way into music videos. Until she finally breaks out those who have been fans of her from the beginning should feel privileged to bear such a badge of honor.