Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Review by Case Wright, Dir: Michael Dougherty


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Godzilla: King of the Monsters is like eating a huge handful of different colored Jelly Bellys all at once; it’s fun and kinda sticky.  It was written and directed by Michael Dougherty (Trick ‘r Treat, Krampus, or anything that’s filmed for a few hundred bucks and a sandwich).  Dougherty is known for inexpensive genre films like Krampus, which was kind of fun in a goofy way.  This is a much bigger budget and if it weren’t for the dialogue, it would’ve been great.  Honestly, you don’t really need to listen to the dialogue and Dougherty is a lousy writer; so you’re better off tuning the people out.

The cast was everyone you like: Coach Taylor, Eleven, Tywin Lannister, That Lady from the Conjuring, That Science Teacher from Stranger Things, West Wing Guy, What’s His Face, and the guy who was in the last one who wanted the monsters to fight.  On the monster side: there was Mothra, King Ghidora, Rodan, Michaelangelo, Godzilla, and the rest.  They were all thrown at the screen like water balloons hitting you in the face.

The movie opens with Dr Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga) and Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) at a Monarch facility where baby Mothra wakes up and everyone seems to want to touch it.  Gross.  They’re gonna get a dino-rash! Terrorists enter, kill everyone, and take ….. did I write take … I meant pick up Dr. Russell and Madison.

Why? Dr. Russell lost her son to the last Godzilla attack and has decided that everyone should die because that makes sense…somehow. So, she sets up her Doctor Doolittle machine to talk/wake up all the Kaijus to kill everyone.  Her argument is really annoying and has a makeshift powerpoint presentation.  She is the embodiment of every sanctimonious Seattleite, Vegan, Composting, Apologist, Whiner all rolled into one; she figures if the monsters kill all the people that the world will be better off- think if that horrible Lorax finally got the money to kill for the trees.  They’re why I refuse to recycle …. EVER!

Anywho….she wakes up all the monsters and Coach Taylor who is Dr Russell’s quasi-ex-husband scientist is granted crazy authority over the military to figure out how to stop all the monsters from killing everyone.  And man do they ever fight?!!! I mean it do they ever fight?  I counted only four monster on monster fight scenes- kinda skimpy.  Also, Godzilla had to be recharged with nukes or radioactive spa time to keep going; I guess Godzilla decided to upload the latest Apple Update.

Godzilla ends up on top….literally. He gets on top of a mound in Boston and all the other monsters bow down to Godzilla, except Mothra – She curtsies (she’s from another time).  There’s good CGI and Monster fighting- when they do fight.  Just don’t go trying to find deeper meaning.  I loved these movies because they’d be on tv for the nerd set when I was a kid.  I saw them all.  In fact, in King Ghidora v Godzilla, Godzilla tries to help the Japanese win world war II or at least one battle. It was awesome.  These movies are great because you can unplug and watch some awesome destruction.  This movie brings the boom.  Enjoy!

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Film Review: American Me (1992, directed by Edward James Olmos)


American Me tells the story of Montoya Santana (Edward James Olmos).  Conceived during the Zoot Suit Riots of the 1940s, Santana is first arrested when he’s just 14 years old.  It’s only a breaking-and-entering charge but, on his first night in juvenile hall, Santana is raped by another inmate.  When Santana retaliates by murdering his rapist, his fate is set.  As soon as he’s 18, he’s transferred to Folsom Prison but, by that time, he and his friend J.D. (William Forsythe) have already formed what will become La Eme, the Mexican Mafia.  Running things from their cells, Santana and J.D. not only control the prison’s drug trade but they also keep an eye on who, from their old neighborhood, is going to be joining them behind bars.  Santana establishes early on that the punishment for any sign of weakness or disloyalty is death.

When Santana is finally released from prison, he finds that the world has changed since he was first incarcerated.  La Eme has become powerful both inside and outside of prison and nearly everyone in Santana’s old neighborhood looks up to him.  But Santana, himself, is lost.  In prison, Santana was feared and respected but, on the outside, he’s a 34 year-old man who has never had a job or a relationship.  He’s never even learned how to drive.

After meeting and falling in love with Julie (Evelina Fernandez) and seeing firsthand the damage that the drug trade is doing to his community, Santana starts to have second thoughts about La Eme.  But, according to the rules that he previously established, trying to leave La Eme is punishable by death.

American Me is a classic gangster film and I’m always surprised that it doesn’t have a bigger following than it does.  Along with starring in the film, Olmos made his directorial debut with American Me and he provides an unflinchingly brutal look at the drug trade and the violence that goes along with it.  Olmos was allowed to film inside Folsom Prison and even used actual prisoners are extras, bringing a touch of neorealist verisimilitude to the prison scenes. Early on, there’s a sequence that follows a baggie of heroin from one orifice to another until it finally reaches it destination in the prison.  It leaves you with no doubt that if people are willing to go through that much trouble to get drugs, it’s going to take something more than just zero tolerance laws to dissuade them.

Once Santana is released, Olmos does a good job, as both an actor and director, of showing just how lost he is.  In prison, Santana was in charge and feared but, when dealing with people in the real world, he’s just as awkward as he was when he was a teenager on his way to juvenile hall.  Olmos gives a tightly-wound, subtle performance as a man who is as much a prisoner of his outlook as he is of the state of California.

The men who served as the real-life inspiration for Olmos’s film were reportedly outraged by American Me.  They weren’t upset by the film’s portrayal of the drug trade or their callous disregard for the members of their community.  Instead, the film’s crime was suggesting that their organization was founded by someone who had been previously raped in prison.  (That Santana subsequently killed his rapist made no difference.)  Three people associated with the Mexican Mafia, all of whom has served as consultants to American Me, were subsequently murdered in the days immediately following the release of the film.

As for Edward James Olmos, he has remained busy as an actor.  One generation got know him on Miami Vice and then the next came to know him from Battlestar Galactica.  He’s subsequently directed four other films.  For me, his strongest work, as both an actor and a director, remains American Me.

Riot On Ice: Paul Newman in SLAP SHOT (Universal 1977)


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Hockey fans are excited about this year’s Stanley Cup Finals between the Boston Bruins and the St. Louis Blues, so I figured now’s the time to take a look at the quintessential hockey movie, George Roy Hill’s SLAP SHOT. Hill and star Paul Newman, who’d previously collaborated on BUTCH CASSIDY & THE SUNDANCE KID and THE STING, reunited for this raucous, raunchy sports comedy about a failing minor league hockey team who reinvent themselves as a hard-hitting goon squad.

Newman plays Reg Dunlap, an aging rink rat now the player-coach for the Chiefs, a dying franchise in a dying mill town. The team is on a massive losing streak, and attendance is at an all-time low. Two-bit GM Joe McGrath (Newman’s COOL HAND LUKE antagonist Strother Martin) is trying to sell the Chiefs, and things look bleak until Dunlap begins taunting his opponents and the rink violence escalates. Enter a…

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The Pin-Up Art of George Quintana (1902 — 1957)


Like many of his contemporaries, the illustrator George Quintana received his formal training from the Art Students League of New York City.  Unlike many of his fellow artists, Quintana was also a professional dancer who had a brief stage career (and a marriage to a ballerina that lasted for less than a year) before he began to truly pursue his artistic career.

Quintana is best-remembered for a series of pin-up covers that he did in the 30s and 40s for pulp magazines with titles like Film Fun, Gay French Life, Ginger, Movie Humor, Movie Merry Go-Round, Snappy Detective Mysteries, Snappy Stories, Stolen Sweets, and Tempting Tales.  These magazines were considered to be very racy for their day and were sold either under-the-counter or in burlesque houses.  Today, Quintana’s covers seem far more innocent and almost quaint.

Quintana would later move to California and then Arizona, where he found work doing photography work for body building magazines and where he worked as a painter.  Though Quintana was only 55 when he suffered a fatal heart attack, his work continues to highly sought after by collectors.

Here are a few of George Quinana’s pin-ups:

 

Weekly Reading Round-Up : 05/26/2019 – 06/01/2019, Two Debuts And Two Finales


Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

I don’t keep precise track, but it seems like it’s been a good month or two since the Round-Up looked at new “mainstream” stuff to that hit LCS shops the previous Wednesday, so we’re gonna correct that imbalance by looking at two first issues and two last issues that saw release this week. We’ll start with the “starts” and stop with the “stops,” if it’s all the same to you —

Killer Groove #1 comes our way from Aftershock and the writer/artist team of Ollie Masters and Eoin Marron. Masters seems to dig the “1970s period-piece noir with a twist” premise, as this is his second foray down that particular rabbit-hole, the first being his Vertigo series The Kitchen, soon to be a major Hollywood blockbuster starring Melissa McCarthy. This one seems just as ripe for commercial exploitation, but so far characterization, motivations, even the plot itself are all…

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Music Video of the Day: Bop ‘Til You Drop by Rick Springfield (1984, directed by David Fincher)


When you think of which 1980s pop singer was most likely to fuse his music with a science fiction epic about a group of intergalactic prisoners being enslaved by some sort of smirking lizard king, Rick Springfield is probably not the name that immediately comes to mind.  But that’s just what happens with the music video for his song, Bop ‘Til You Drop.

Not surprisingly, this video was directed by David Fincher.  Before Fincher moved into feature films, he specialized in music videos that took artists to new and unexpected places.  According to both the Internet Movie Database and the Internet Music Video Database, this was Fincher’s first music video.  A year earlier, he had worked as an assistant cameraman on Return of the Jedi and both the slaves and the aliens in this video feel like they would not have been out of place as a part of Jabba the Hutt’s entourage.  Visually, the video also has much in common with Fincher’s feature directorial debut, Alien 3.

This song was recorded for the soundtrack of Hard To Hold, an apparently unsuccessful attempt to turn Rick Springfield into a film star.  I haven’t seen Hard to Hold but Wikipedia offers up the following plot description:

James “Jamie” Roberts (played by singer-songwriter Rick Springfield), being a pop idol, is used to having his way with women. He meets child psychologist Diana Lawson (Janet Eilber) in a car accident, however, who not only doesn’t swoon at his attention but has also never heard of him. He tries to win her affection but complicating things is that his ex-lover, Nicky Nides (Patti Hansen), remains a member of his band.

It sounds like the music video was more interesting than the movie.

Enjoy!