A Movie A Day #356: The Delta Force (1986, directed by Menahem Golan)

Last year, at this time, I set a goal for myself.

I decided that, in 2017, I would review a movie a day and I nearly succeeded. I didn’t review a movie on the day Chris Cornell died.  I missed a few days in March due to a sinus infection.  Including the review that I’m posting below, I reviewed 356 movies in 2017.  According to the year-end stats, my most popular reviews were for Heavy Metal Parking Lot, Slaughter, Body Chemistry 3, Body Chemistry 4, and Beatlemania.

Since tomorrow will be the start of a new year, this is going to be the end of my A Movie A Day experiment.  In 2018, I’ll still be watching movies and posting reviews on this site but this is my final daily review.  For my final Movie A Day, I picked the greatest movie of all time, The Delta Force!

Produced by Cannon Films, The Delta Force starts in 1980, with a helicopter exploding in the desert.  America’s elite special missions force has been sent to Iran to rescue the men and women being held hostage in the embassy.  The mission is a disaster with the members of Delta Force barely escaping with their lives.  Captain Chuck Norris tells his commanding officer, Col. Lee Marvin, that he’s finished with letting cowardly politicians control their missions.  Chuck heads to Montana while Lee spends the next few years hitting on the bartender at his local watering hole.

In 1985, terrorists led by Robert Forster hijack an airplane and divert it to Beirut.  Among those being held hostage: Martin Balsam, Shelley Winters, Lainie Kazan, Susan Strasberg, Kim Delaney, and Bo Svenson.  The great George Kennedy plays a priest named O’Malley who, when the Jewish passengers are moved to a separate location, declares himself to be Jewish and demands to be taken too.  Jerry Lazarus is a hostage who spends the movie holding a Cabbage Patch doll that his daughter gave him for luck.  Former rat packer Joey Bishop plays a passenger who says, “Beirut was beautiful then.  Beautiful.”  Fassbinder favorite Hanna Schygulla is the stewardess who refuses to help the terrorists because, “I am German!”

In America, General Robert Vaughn activates The Delta Force to rescue the hostages and take out the terrorists.  As Lee Marvin prepares everyone (including Cannon favorite, Steve James and, in a nonspeaking role, Liam Neeson) to leave, the big question is whether Chuck Norris will come out of retirement for the mission.  Of course, he does.  Even better, he brings his motorcycle with him.

Anyone who has ever seen The Delta Force remembers Chuck’s motorcycle.  Not only did it look incredibly cool but it was also mounted with machine guns and it could fire missiles at cowardly terrorists.  It didn’t matter whether you agreed with the film’s politics were or whether you even liked the movie, everyone who watched The Delta Force wanted Chuck’s motorcycle.  As the old saying goes, “You may be cool but you’ll never be Chuck Norris firing a missile from a motorcycle cool.”

The Delta Force is really three different films.  One film, shot in the style of a disaster film, is about the hostages on the plane and their evil captors.  The second film is Lee Marvin (in his final movie role) preparing his men to storm the airplane.  The third movie is Chuck Norris chasing Robert Forster on his motorcycle.  Put those three movies together and you have the ultimate Cannon movie.  The Delta Force was even directed by Cannon’s head honcho, Menahem Golan.  (Years earlier, Golan also directed Operation Thunderbolt, an Israeli film about the raid on Entebbe, which features more than a few similarities to The Delta Force.  Golan received his first and only Oscar nomination when Operation Thunderbolt was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film.)

The Delta Force is also the ultimate 80s movie.  It opens with the Carter administration fucking everything up and it ends with the Reagan administration giving Lee Marvin and Chuck Norris the greenlight to blow up some terrorists.  There is not much nuance to be found in The Delta Force but it still feels good to watch Chuck beat the bad guys.  Top that off with a shameless score from Alan Silvestri and you have one of the greatest action movies of all time.

At the end of The Delta Force, as cans of Budweiser are being passed out to rescued hostages, an extra is clearly heard to shout, “Beer!  America!”  Then everyone sings America The Beautiful.

That says it all.

Late To The Party : “The Florida Project”

Trash Film Guru

This oughtta be simple enough — Sean Baker’s The Florida Project is every bit as good as you’ve heard.

Okay, that’s it, my job’s done — Happy New Year, everybody.

But wait just a second —

You wanna know why. I swear, everybody always wants to know why. And, hey, I can’t say as I blame you — movie tickets don’t come cheap these days and one is forced to choose wisely. I was sold on seeing this from the outset (even if it took me awhile to get my ass to the theater), being a huge fans of Baker’s 2015 shot-on-an-iPhone effort Tangerine, and this time around I was curious to see what he could/would do with some real actors, actual cameras, and a whopping two million dollar budget. Would he “sell out”? Or would he stay true to himself even though the ever-elusive “big time”…

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What Lisa Watched Last Night #172: Web Cam Girls (dir by Doug Campbell)

Last night, I watched one of the final Lifetime movies of 2017, Web Cam Girls!

Why Was I Watching It?

Well, the obvious answer is that I was watching it because it was on Lifetime and our regular readers know how much I love Lifetime!

However, from the minute that I saw the first commercial for Web Cam Girls, I grew convinced that it would be better than the average 2017 Lifetime film.  The commercials were just so melodramatic and wonderfully sordid.  If I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that the best Lifetime films always seem to be about capitalizing on people’s fear of the dark web.  (Then again, people probably should be scared of the dark web…)

Finally, I knew that I was going to have to review this film just because of the title.  Now, whenever someone does a search for “web cam girls,” there’s a good chance they’ll end up on this site.  They’ll probably get mad once they arrive here but a click is a click.

What Was It About?

Carolyn (Lorynn York) needs money so she becomes a web cam girl.  Her cousin, Alex (Sedona Legge), says it’s a bad and dangerous idea but Carolyn claims that it’s actually the safest way to make money.  She never meets the men who watch her.  All she has to do is undress a little on camera and, pretty soon, she’ll be able to get an apartment in New York and make all of her dreams come true.

But then, one night, Carolyn gives in to temptation to agrees to meet one of her admirers in a sleazy motel.  She promptly vanishes, leaving Alex and their friend Shawn (Liam McKanna) to try to figure out what happened.  Was she kidnapped and, if so, by whom?  There are suspects all around and it’s starting to look like the only way Alex is going to find her is by going on camera herself.

What Worked?

Oh my God, Lifetime really did save the best for last!  After a year that left many longtime Lifetime viewers feeling somewhat disappointed, Lifetime finally gave us the type of movie that made us fall in love with the network in the first place.  Web Cam Girls is wonderfully melodramatic, over the top, and incredibly entertaining.  The houses are beautiful, the villain is perhaps one of the most evil characters to ever appear in a Lifetime film, and the whole thing is full of details that will reward the observant viewer.

For instance, Carolyn, Alex, and Shawn discuss watching Sunrise in film class.  Sunrise, of course, is a film about an innocent who is tempted by the sinful city, much in the same way that Carolyn and Alex are tempted by the sinful internet.  Later, another teacher tells Alex that he was impressed with her essay about H.P. Lovecraft.  References to both Lovecraft and F.W. Murnau in a Lifetime movie?  How can’t you love that?

It was also well-acted.  Stephen Graybill and Joe Hackett were memorable as two sinister teachers.  I liked both Jon Bridell as Carolyn’s drunk but ultimately heroic father and John Dinan as his best friend.  In the role of Carolyn’s mentor, Nikki, Tonya Kay made such a strong impression that a lot of us on twitter were demanding that Nikki get a spin-off film of her own.  Down to the smallest part, everyone made their character interesting.

What Did Not Work?

It all worked.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

When I was in high school, I also used to dress in black and write essays about H.P. Lovecraft.

Lessons Learned

Beware the dark web!


Music Video of the Day: Scream & Shout by will.i.am featuring Britney Spears (2012, dir by Ben Mor)

Happy New Year’s Eve, everyone!

There will be much work to do tomorrow but for now let’s just scream and shout and let it all out…

(This song, by the way, is the unofficial anthem of the SBS, the best group of friends that anyone could hope to have.  LOVE YOU!)


Weekly Reading Round-Up : 12/24/2017 – 12/30/2017, Special “Fuck You Nick Gazin, We’ll Miss You Jim Baikie” Edition

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

I had this nice column all ready to go for you folks this week. We were gonna talk about Chuck Forsman’s Slasher. We were gonna talk about the final issue of Kamandi Challenge. We were gonna talk about the latest magnificent story from Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill in Cinema Purgatorio. We were gonna talk about Simon Hanselmann’s Performance broadsheet. And then a couple of things happened.

The first involves the pathetic aging hipster pictured above, who you’ve probably already guessed, based on his appearance alone, works for Vice. In fact, he’s their art editor, and his name is Nick Gazin. Before we go any further, take a look at this lazy fucking column he wrote : https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/paqaxk/the-ten-best-comics-of-2017

You’re back? Okay, good. Yes, according to Mr. Handlebar Mustache, only eight good comics came out in all of 2017. Three of them were reprints. One was a…

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A Movie A Day #355: F.I.S.T. (1978, directed by Norman Jewison)

Sylvester Stallone is Jimmy Hoffa!

Actually, Stallone plays Johnny Kovak, a laborer who becomes a union organizer in 1939.  Working with him is his best friend, Abe Belkin (David Huffman).  In the fight for the working man, Abe refuses to compromise to either the bosses or the gangsters who want a piece of union.  Johnny is more pragmatic and willing to make deals with ruthless mobsters like Vince Doyle (Kevin Conway) and Babe Milano (Tony Lo Bianco).  Over thirty years, both Johnny and Abe marry and start families.  Both become powerful in the union.  When Johnny discovers that union official Max Graham (Peter Boyle) is embezzling funds, Johnny challenges him for the presidency.  When a powerful U.S. senator (Rod Steiger) launches an investigation into F.I.S.T. corruption, both Johnny and Abe end up marked for death.

Obviously based on the life and mysterious disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, F.I.S.T. was one of two films that Stallone made immediately after the surprise success of Rocky.  (The other was Paradise Alley.)  F.I.S.T. features Stallone in one of his most serious roles and the results are mixed.  In the film’s quieter scenes, especially during the first half, Stallone is surprisingly convincing as the idealistic and morally conflicted Kovak.  Stallone is less convincing when Kovak has to give speeches.  If F.I.S.T. were made today, Stallone could probably pull off the scenes of the aged, compromised Johnny but in 1978, he was not yet strong enough as an actor.  Far better is the rest of the cast, especially Conway, Lo Bianco, and Boyle.  If you do see F.I.S.T., keep an eye on the actor playing Johnny’s son.  Though he was credited as Cole Dammett, he grew up to be Anthony Keidis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The box office failures of both F.I.S.T. and Paradise Alley led Stallone back to his most famous role with Rocky II.  And the rest is history.


Music Video of the Day: Luminary Ones by Rebecca & Fiona (2010, dir by Tim Erem)

Today’s music video of the day comes from Sweden’s Rebecca & Fiona!

To be honest, I nearly picked a different Rebecca & Fiona video for today.  I nearly picked Dance, just because the title went well with how I’m planning on spending tomorrow night but, to be honest, Dance is a seriously dark video and I didn’t want to begin the last Saturday of 2017 on a down note.

So, I picked Luminary Ones, which I actually like a bit better than Dance.  If you know me or if you love French cinema, you will not be surprised to learn that one reason why I like this video is because it reminds me of a Jean Rollin film.

This video was directed by Tim Erem, who has directed videos for Tove Lo, Nick Jonas, and Rihanna.  The haunting cinematography is credited to Staffan Övgård.


Catching Up With The Films of 2017: A Woman, A Part (dir by Elisabeth Subrin)

There’s a great montage during the first half of A Woman, A Part.

An actress named Anna (Maggie Siff) wanders around her home, reading scripts for tv shows and movies.  In between shots of her snorting cocaine, we listen as she reads dialogue aloud.  One of the scripts features her as a dying mother who, with her last words, asks her children to look after their father.  Another script is obviously from a Lifetime film and again, the role that Maggie reads is for a mother.  In another script, she’s a love interest.  And, in another, she’s just a bitchy authority figure.  As becomes obvious from the dialogue, none of the scripts offer her the chance to play a leading or even a fully developed character.  In each script, she’s either a plot device or a part of the scenery.  She reads a script, she does a line.  As she finishes each script, she tosses it into her pool until soon, the water is full of shallow characters and clichéd dialogue.  Soon, Anna is floating in the pool, surrounded by the debris of her career.

Anna moved to Los Angeles from New York.  In New York, she was all about theater and seeking truth through acting.  In Los Angeles, she has a role on a sitcom and a certain amount of fame.  People stare at her in restaurants.  Some ask for autographs.  Anna is exhausted, frustrated, and very aware that Hollywood has little to offer an actress in her 40s.

Anna escapes Los Angeles, heading back to New York.  She hopes to reunite with her former friends but, when she arrives, she discovers that some have moved on and some have not.  Her former acting partner, Kate (Cara Seymour), no longer considers herself to be an actress and resents Anna for having left their show to go to Los Angeles.  Playwright Isaac (John Ortiz) has written a play, one that centers around a flawed character who Anna immediately recognizes as being based on herself.

A Woman, A Part is the first full-length feature film to be directed by the video artist, Elisabeth Subrin.  It’s a flawed but promising debut.  For every moment that runs the risk of falling into cliché, there’s a sequence like that pool scene or the scenes where Kate and Anna deal with their fractured friendship.  It’s in those scenes between Maggie Siff and Cara Seymour that the film really comes alive.  When a fan approaches Anna while she’s talking to Kate and Anna responds by saying that everyone should be asking for Kate’s autograph, Kate rightly calls Anna out for her condescending attempt at kindness.  At the same time, the film is also honest enough in its characterizations to admit that much of Kate’s reaction is due to her own resentment that Anna found the success that Kate didn’t.  This is a film that realizes that friendships are often the most complex of relationships.  Maggie Siff and Cara Seymour both give honest and poignant performances.

As I said, A Woman, A Part is not without its flaws.  To be honest, the character of Isaac never interested me as much as Anna and Kate.  There are a few scenes which are just a little bit too on the nose.  It’s not a perfect film but it is a promising one and I look forward to seeing what Elisabeth Subrin does next.