New York Cop (1993, directed by Tôru Murakawa)

Toshi (Tôru Nakamura) is a tough New York cop who is assigned to work undercover in the East Village because, according to his boss, no one will suspect that a Japanese man is actually a cop.  Disguising himself as a homeless gambling addict who has connections with the Tongs, Toshi infiltrates the Brotherhood.  He becomes friends with the gang’s leader, Hawk (Chad McQueen), and he even falls in love with Hawk’s sister, Maria (Mira Sorvino!).  Hawk is buying guns from a mobster named Mr. C (Tony Sirico!!) and Mr. C’s main assassin, Ferrara (Andreas Kastsulas), is driving around New York in a taxi cab and killing undercovers.  Can Toshi take down Mr. C without compromising his relationship with Maria and revealing that he’s actually an undercover cop?  The short answer is no.

New York Cop works best when it focuses on action.  Tôru Nakamura is convincing in the fight scenes but he’s less convincing whenever he has to show emotion or have a conversation with anyone.  The idea that the NYPD would send a Japanese cop undercover to infiltrate a Hispanic gang never makes makes much sense, as Toshi himself points out when the idea is first brought up.  Toshi never makes much of an effort to disguise the fact that he is a cop, which makes Hawk look incredibly stupid for not seeing through him.  The main appeal for most people will probably be the chance to see Tony Sirico and Mira Sorvino in early roles.  Sirico, the former gangster-turned-actor, is convincing as Mr. C and gets all of the film’s best lines.  As for Mira Sorvino, this was only her second or third film role and the script doesn’t give her much to work with.  There are a few scenes where she gets to bring some genuine New York attitude to her character, telling off both her brother and Toshi.  But otherwise, there’s little about her performance that suggests the actress that she would become.  Fortunately, films like Barcelona and Sweet Nothing were right around the corner.

As far as New York cops go, nothing has yet to beat the episode of Barney Miller where Christopher Lloyd vandalizes the station house.

Retro Television Reviews: Fantasy Island 2.13 “The Lady and the Longhorn/Vampire”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Tuesdays, I will be reviewing the original Fantasy Island, which ran on ABC from 1977 to 1986.  The entire show is currently streaming on Tubi!

This week, Robert Reed turns into a vampire!

Episode 2.13 “The Lady and the Longhorn/Vampire”

(Dir by Arnold Laven, originally aired on December 16th, 1978)

Tattoo is excited because Vera Templeton (Eva Gabor) is coming to the island.  Vera is the glamorous owner of a cosmetics company and she is looking for a location to shoot a commercial for her makeup.  Tattoo hopes that she’ll hire him to direct so he puts on a red beret to make him look more like a director.  Mr. Roarke rolls his eyes, letting us know that he has no time for Tattoo’s foolishness.  NOT THIS WEEK!

Actually, this turns out to be a very foolish week indeed.  Vera Templeton is not just coming to the Island to shoot a commercial.  She is on the verge of going bankrupt and needs to marry a rich man.  She meets Hollis Buford, Jr. (Jack Elam), who wears a cowboy hat and picks his teeth and talks about the rodeo a lot but who is apparently a millionaire.  He’s also supposed to be from Dallas.  (I’m from Dallas and I can assure you that the cattle barons live in Fort Worth.)  Vera flirts with Hollis by speaking in a painfully bad Southern accent.  Vera and Hollis get engaged.  Hollis seems to love Vera but Vera just wants his money and we are supposed to find this funny.

Vera’s  bratty and annoying daughter (Tammy Lauren) doesn’t like Hollis, even though he seems like a perfectly well-meaning guy.  So, she sells her stocks to Vera’s butler (Lloyd Bochner) and Vera marries her butler after telling Hollis that their marriage just won’t work out.  “Dagnabbit,” Hollis says, “Now, I have to find another date to the rodeo.”

What an annoying fantasy.  Not only did the humor fall flat but it was a bit mean-spirited as well.

Meanwhile, Leo Drake (Robert Reed) and his wife, Carmen (Julie Sommars) have come to the Island.  Roarke explains that Leo is a method actor.

“That means he like to become the role that he plays,” Tattoo says, “Like Sylvester Stallone in Rocky.”

(And that is probably the only time in history that Robert Reed has even been compared to Sylvester Stallone.)

Leo has been cast in a remake of Dracula so he wants to live in an actual castle overlooking a village in Transylvania.  Roarke obliges and soon, Leo is wandering the streets in the middle of the night and he’s developing fangs.  Has he become a vampire or is the method getting the better of him?  The villagers want to set him on fire but Roarke suggests that they just wait for the sun to rise.  When the sun doesn’t destroy Leo, everyone realizes that he’s not a vampire and …. well, that’s that!

Yes, it’s painfully dumb but at least the episode features mild-mannered Robert Reed, with his gray perm and his aging porn star mustache, putting on a cape and wandering around a village at midnight.  Reed is totally miscast but that gives this episode what little charm it has.

My fantasy is that next week’s episode will be better!

The Eric Roberts Collection: Road to the Open (dir by Cole Claassen)

In 2014’s Road to the Open, Eric Roberts and John Schneider play, respectively, Tim and Rob Gollant.

The Gollant brothers are wealthy, smug, and athletic.  At the local country club, they’re not only the best golf players but also the best tennis players.  They’re the type who taunt their opponents while they’re losing.  No one really likes the Gollant brothers but people put up with them because the Gollant brothers are extremely rich.  When they tell you to get off of their bench at the club, it’s because it really is their bench.  Their names are literally on the bench.

The Gollant Brothers aren’t exactly likeable but they are fun to watch, specifically because they’re played by John Schneider and Eric Roberts.  Roberts and Schneider give perfect performances as two men who have never actually had to grow up.  They’re the type of overage high school bullies who wouldn’t stand a chance in the real world but who, fortunately, can spend all of their time hiding out at their country club.

Of course, the Gollants are not the heroes of Road to the Open.  Instead, they’re the obstacle standing in the way of Jerry McDonald (Troy McKay) and Miles Worth (Philip DeVova).  Jerry and Miles are lifelong friends who enjoy playing tennis together.  Overweight, balding, and mild-mannered, Jerry is not a typical athlete and he knows it.  Haunted by the death of his wife and raising his daughter on his own, Jerry doesn’t so much fear losing as much as he fears letting everyone down.  Miles, meanwhile, is a typical athlete, right down to the anger management issues.  Fortunately, Miles has been seeing a somewhat eccentric therapist (Judd Nelson) and he may have finally learned how to control his temper.

There’s a lot of tennis in Road to the Open but, ultimately, it’s about Jerry and Miles’s friendship and Jerry trying to find the strength to move on with his life.  Even though he meets and falls in love with Sam (Michelle Gunn), Jerry still feels as if he’s betraying the memory of his wife and, at times, he feels guilty for feeling any sort of happiness.  There’s a lot of comedy to be found in Road to the Open but, ultimately, this film is a heartfelt and rather sweet testament to friendship and love.  It’s also a well-acted film, with McKay, DeVova, and Gunn bringing a lot of likable energy to their roles.

I watched Road to the Open on Tubi.  It turned out to be a nice surprise.

Previous Eric Roberts Films That We Have Reviewed:

  1. Star 80 (1983)
  2. Blood Red (1989)
  3. The Ambulance (1990)
  4. The Lost Capone (1990)
  5. Love, Cheat, & Steal (1993)
  6. Love Is A Gun (1994)
  7. Sensation (1994)
  8. Doctor Who (1996)
  9. Most Wanted (1997)
  10. Mr. Brightside (2004)
  11. Six: The Mark Unleased (2004)
  12. Hey You (2006)
  13. In The Blink of an Eye (2009)
  14. The Expendables (2010) 
  15. Sharktopus (2010)
  16. Deadline (2012)
  17. Miss Atomic Bomb (2012)
  18. Lovelace (2013)
  19. Self-Storage (2013)
  20. Inherent Vice (2014)
  21. Rumors of War (2014)
  22. A Fatal Obsession (2015)
  23. Stalked By My Doctor (2015)
  24. Stalked By My Doctor: The Return (2016)
  25. The Wrong Roommate (2016)
  26. Stalked By My Doctor: Patient’s Revenge (2018)
  27. Monster Island (2019)
  28. Seven Deadly Sins (2019)
  29. Stalked By My Doctor: A Sleepwalker’s Nightmare (2019)
  30. The Wrong Mommy (2019)
  31. Her Deadly Groom (2020)
  32. Top Gunner (2020)
  33. Just What The Doctor Ordered (2021)
  34. Killer Advice (2021)
  35. The Poltergeist Diaries (2021)
  36. My Dinner With Eric (2022)

Lisa Marie’s Way Too Early Oscar Predictions For March

Now that the 2022 Oscars are over with, it’s time to move on to the 2023 Oscars!

Needless to say, there’s probably nothing more pointless than trying to guess which films are going to be nominated a year from now.  I can’t even guarantee that all of the films listed below are even going to be released this year.  And, even if they are released this year, I can’t guarantee that they’ll actually be any good or that the Academy will show any interest in them.  I mean, Martin Scorsese always seems like a safe bet but we all remember what happened with Silence.  For months, everyone said Silence would be the Oscar front runner.  Then it was released to respectful but not ecstatic reviews.  Audiences stayed away.  The film ended up with one technical nomination.

My point is that no one knows anything.  As much as I hate quoting William Goldman (because, seriously, quoting Goldman on a film site is such a cliché at this point), Goldman was right.

So, you may be asking, how did I come up with the nominees below?  For the most part, I guessed.  A few of them I went with because of the people who made the film.  Though shooting has wrapped, Ferrari might not even be released this year but it’s a Michael Mann film that stars Adam Driver so, for now, I have to include it.  Of course, I had to include Scorsese and Killers of the Flower Moon.  Asteroid City is there because the Academy embraced Wes Anderson once and it could always happen again.  Fair Play and Magazine Dreams‘s Jonathan Majors are listed because the Sundance Film Festival is still a recent memory.  Maestro is there because the Academy seems like to Bradley Cooper.  Dune Part Two and Oppenheimer are there because Film Twitter is convinced that they will be.

In other words, there’s no real science to these predictions.  It’s too early in the year to do anything but guess.  And for now, these are my guesses.  A year from now, they’ll be good for either bragging rights or a laugh.  Hopefully, they’ll be good for both.

Best Picture

Asteroid City

The Color Purple

Dune Part Two

Fair Play


The Holdovers

Killers of the Flower Moon




Best Director

Chloe Domont for Fair Play

Christopher Nolan for Oppenheimer

Alexander Payne for The Holdovers

Martin Scorsese for Killers of the Flower Moon

Denis Villeneuve for Dune Part Two

Best Actor

Bradley Cooper in Maestro

Colman Domingo in Rustin

Paul Giamatti in The Holdovers

Jonathan Majors in Magazine Dreams

Cillian Murphy in Oppenheimer

Best Actress

Emily Blunt in Pain Hustlers

Carey Mulligan in Maestro

Da’Vine Joy Randolph in The Holdovers

Julia Roberts in Leave the World Behind

Teyana Taylor in A Thousand and One

Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali in Leave The World Behind

Willem DaFoe in Poor Things

Matt Damon in Oppenheimer

Ethan Hawke in Strange Way Of Life

Jesse Plemons in Killers of the Flower Moon

Best Supporting Actress

Emily Blunt in Oppenheimer

Tantoo Cardinal in Killers of the Flower Moon

Taraji P. Henson in The Color Purple

Florence Pugh in Oppenheimer

Tilda Swinton in Asteroid City

Scenes That I Love: Michael Caine in The Dark Knight Rises

Today, the Shattered Lens wishes a happy 90th birthday to Sir Michael Caine.

With 177 acting credits listed on the imdb, Michael Caine has been working regularly since 1956.  (Though he actually made his acting debut, at the age of 10, in a made-for-TV movie in 1946).  There are many great Michael Caine performances and scenes to choose from but, for today, I decided to go for a scene from 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises.  Caine was 79 when he played Alfred in this film and he showed that, after decades of work, he hadn’t lost a step as a performer.  As well, he also showed his ability to take a character who could have been ridiculous — the loyal butler of a superhero — and instead make him surprisingly poignant.

Film Review: 600 Miles (dir by Gabriel Ripstein)

The 2015 film, 600 Miles, tells the story of two people, neither of whom is quite who he originally appears to be.

Arnulfo Rubio (Kristyan Ferrer) is the 18 year-old nephew of the head of one of Mexico’s drug cartels.  Arnulfo’s job is to go across the border, purchases weapons in the United States, and then smuggle them back into Mexico.  Arnulfo likes to think of himself as being an important member of his uncle’s cartel but it’s obvious that no one has much respect for Arnulfo.  The other members of the cartel treat him like a errand boy.  His uncle merely tolerates him, no matter how many times Arnulfo tries to impress him with his loyalty.  His own mother doesn’t seem to want to have Arnulfo around the house.  While Arnulfo takes the weapon smuggling very seriously, his American partner — who is himself just as trashy teenager — treats it all like a game.  Arnulfo talks tough but whenever he’s confronted by the threat of real violence, Arnulfo starts to cry.  Arnulfo may carry a gun and he may be committing crimes but he’s still the type of immature child who draws fake tattoos on his shoulders and who makes mean faces in front of a mirror.

When an ATF agent named Hank Harris (played by Tim Roth) attempts to arrest Arnulfo, Arnulfo’s American partner knocks Hank out and then takes off running.  Not knowing what else to do, Arnulfo puts Hank in his truck and takes him into Mexico.  After Hank mentions the names of the leaders of a rival cartel, Arnulfo decides that Hank could be a good intelligence asset to his uncle’s cartel.  Arnulfo feels that kidnapping Hank will be the perfect way to win his uncle’s respect.

As for Hank, it’s hard not to notice that he doesn’t seem to be that upset about being tied up in Arnulfo’s truck.  Whenever Arnulfo tries to order Hank to do something, Hank comes up with a perfect excuse for why he can’t to do it.  When Arnulfo demands that Hank call his wife and lie about where he is, Hank replies that his wife is dead.  Arnulfo believes Hank and, as they drive to his uncle’s house, the two of them even start to bond.  Arnulfo never considers that his uncle might not want his nephew to give an ATF agent a guided tour of the cartel’s business.  And, for his matter, Hank never tries to escape despite a number of obvious opportunities to do so.

It makes for a very tense film.  The viewer knows that something bad is going to happen once Arnulfo finally reaches his uncle.  The only question is what.  For all of his tough talk, Arnulfo is way too trusting and the audience spends the movie waiting for the moment when it will be revealed whether Arnulfo’s bigger mistake was trusting his uncle or trusting Hank.  Along the way, Arnulfo and Hank’s odd friendship becomes a fascinating metaphor for how the U.S. and Mexico view each other and themselves.  The film was reportedly inspired by Operation Fast and Furious, the misbegotten government operation in which the United States gave guns to the cartels so that they could then prosecute the cartels for the deadly crimes committed with those same guns.  Arnulfo cares about both the cartel and Hank but, in the end, one is left to wonder if any of them actually care about Arnulfo or if he’s just one of many pawns in their game.

Tim Roth and Kristyan Ferrer are both well-cast, with Roth bringing his trademark intensity to the role of Hank and Ferrer making Arnulfo into someone who secretly knows that he will never be the mastermind that he dreams of being.  In the wrong hands, Arnulfo could have been a very annoying character but Ferrer plays him as being someone who knows that he’s in over his head and it’s hard not to feel sorry for him as his wishful thinking comes up against the harsh reality of his situation.  The first 20 or so minutes of 600 Miles are dedicated to Arnulfo believing that he’s on top of the world.  The remaining 60 follow him as he comes to realize that the opposite is true.

600 Miles is as timely today as when it was first released.  It’s a film that I recommend to anyone trying to understand what’s happening down on the border.

Music Video of the Day: So Yesterday by Hilary Duff (2003, dir by Chris Applebaum)

For today’s music video of the day, Hilary Duff says that you’re so yesterday!

Personally, I’ve always liked Hilary Duff and I think she’s underrated as both a singer and an actress.  For instance, The Haunting of Sharon Tate was a problematic film on several levels but Hilary Duff’s performance in the title role made the film several times better than it probably had any right to be.  Add to that, Hilary Duff is a Texas girl, just like me!  Texas girls support each other.

Texas plays a role in this video.  Hilary breaks up with her boyfriend, who appears to be a Galveston surfer.  When he leaves his Don’t Mess With Texas t-shirt on the beach, Hilary steals it and then takes it around the town and basically gets everyone to pose while wearing it.  Good for her!  This is a fun, revenge-filled video.  Hilary Duff lets her ex know that he is “so yesterday,” and his t-shirt looks better on a random skater dude than it does on him.  Take that!

I’ve been asked if Don’t Mess With Texas is something that is really said down here and the answer is that it is.  Don’t Mess With Texas started out as an anti-littering slogan but it has since been transformed into a catch-all phrase that can be used for almost any situation.  For instance, whenever we talk about all of the Yankees that have been moving down here, we always agree that they better live by the slogan.  Remember why you left your old state and don’t mess with Texas.