4 Shots From 4 Films: Star 80, Doctor Who, The Dark Knight, Stalked By My Doctor: The Return

4 Shots from 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots from 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

Eric Roberts, who turned 62 years old today, has appeared in over 500 movies since 1978.  Here are 4 shots from 4 of them.

4 Shots From 4 Films

Star 80 (1983, dir by Bob Fosse)

Doctor Who: The Movie (1996, dir by Geoffrey Sax)

The Dark Knight (2008, dir by Christopher Nolan)

Stalked By My Doctor: The Return (2016, dir by Doug Campbell)

Music Video of the Day: Battle Without Honor or Humanity by Tomoyasu Hotei (2004, dir by ????)

I’m still feeling a little under the weather so I decided to pick a music video for today that pretty much speaks for itself.  As you can probably guess from just watching, this video for Tomoyasu Hotei’s Battle Without Honor or Humanity was released to coincide with the release of the Kill Bill soundtrack.

Though most listeners immediately associate this song with Kill Bill, it was actually originally written for and used in another film, 2000’s New Battles Without Honor or Humanity.  As any quick perusal of YouTube will show you, this is not only one of Hotei’s most popular songs but also one that exists in several different version.  The video above last for 3 and a half minutes.  The version of the song on the Kill Bill soundtrack is a minute shorter.  I’ve come across versions on YouTube that last anywhere from 6 to 15 minutes.  Regardless which version you use, Battle Without Honor or Humanity is a good stripper song.  Just saying.

This is also a song that’s fun to listen to while you’re driving, unless of course you live in a city with really bad traffic and are prone to road rage.  If that’s the case, you might want to listen to something a little bit more calming.

Anyway, regardless of how good or bad your morning commute may be, enjoy!




How R. Lee Ermey Made AP History Fun

Years ago, during my senior year of high school, my AP History teacher taught us about Vietnam by bringing in a movie.  He explained that the movie featured some “adult language” and was not always easy to watch.  He also said that it was the most realistic portrayal of basic training ever put on film.  Seeing as how he was a former Marine himself, we took his word for it.

That movie, of course, was Full Metal Jacket.  The class loved the movie, though not in the way that our teacher was hoping.  He was hoping that we would pick up on the film’s anti-war theme but instead we were all obsessed with Gunnery Sergeant Hartmann, the tough-as-nails drill sergeant played by R. Lee Ermey.  It didn’t matter that Hartmann probably wouldn’t have welcome any of us into his beloved corp.  (The majority of the class may have had Private Joker’s wit but they also had Private Pyle’s physisque.)  From the minute that Hartmann started yelling at the recruits, the class thought he was the coolest and toughest sonuvabitch of all time.  We were supposed to be learning that war was Hell and dehumanizing but we just wanted to listen to Hatmann yell about Mary Jane Rottencrotch and her pink panties.

Looking back, I feel bad for my teacher.  He wanted to show us the horrors of Vietnam and instead, he ended up with a bunch of students who wouldn’t stop chanting, “I don’t know but I’ve been told/Eskimo pussy is mighty cold!”  Every class debate, there was always a chance that someone would respond to an opposing argument by saying, “You wouldn’t even have the common courtesy to give him a reach around!”

I won’t even get into the number of times that, for the rest of the year, the term “skull fuck” was used in class discussions.

Full Metal Jacket is an anti-war film.  The first half may be dominated by Sgt. Hartmann turning the recruits into “perfect” killing machines but the second half features those machines being picked off, one-by-one, by an unseen sniper in a bombed-out building.  All of Hartmann’s words about the brotherhood of duty are meant to ring hollow as we watch one teenage girl gun down Marine after Marine.  Perhaps they would have if Hartmann had been played by anyone other than R. Lee Ermey.

One reason why Ermey was so believable as Hartmann was because he actually had been a drill instructor.  In 1961, R. Lee Ermey was 17 years old and had two arrests for criminal mischief on his record when a judge told him that he could either go to jail or he could join the military.  Ermey chose to enlist.  He served in the Marines for 11 years, getting a medical discharge in 1972.

He began his film career as a technical advisor to Francis Ford Coppola during the shooting of Apocalypse Now.  This led to him playing Sgt. Loyce, a drill instructor in The Boys of Company C.

(The shooting of Apocalypse Now was so drawn out that The Boys of Company C actually ended up getting released a year before Coppola’s epic.)

Originally, Ermey was only hired to serve as a technical advisor on Full Metal Jacket.  It wasn’t until Ermey put together an instructional video for Tom Colceri, the actor who had previously been cast as Sgt. Hartmann.  When Full Metal Jacket‘s director, Stanley Kubrick, saw the tape, he replaced Colceri with Ermey.  (Colceri still appears in the film.  He plays the helicopter door gunner who brags about shooting 50 water buffalo.)

Kubrick not only gave Ermey his most famous role but he also allowed Ermey to improvise much of his dialogue, something that was practically unheard of on a Kubrick set.  Kubrick also said that it usually only took 2 or 3 takes for Ermey to give him what he was looking for.  That was a high compliment from Stanley Kubrick, the man who, during the filming of The Shining, made Scatman Crothers do over a hundred takes of one scene.

Ermey’s performance as Hartmann was so iconic and so quotable that it has become the standard by which all other film drill instructors are judged.  It also made Ermey a much-in-demand character actor.  Many of the roles that Ermey played were designed to capitalize on his fame as Hartmann.  He played the a ghost of a drill instructor in The Frighteners.  He was the voice of Sarge in three Toy Story films.

In a few films, R. Lee Ermey got a chance to show that he was capable of more than just playing variations on Sgt. Hartmann.  In Prefontaine, he played the legendary coach and Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman.  He was a police captain in Se7en and the father of a murdered girl in Dead Man Walking.  In the two remakes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, he was Leatherface’s equally depraved uncle.

R. Lee Ermey died yesterday at the age of 74 but his performances will live on forever.

RIP, Sarge.  Thank you for making AP History fun.

Celebrate Patriots’ Day with JOHNNY TREMAIN (Walt Disney 1957)

cracked rear viewer

Here in Massachusetts, every third Monday in April is designated Patriots’ Day, a state holiday commemorating the 1775 Battles of Lexington and Concord which gave birth to the American Revolutionary War. The annual Boston Marathon is run on this day, as well as an 11:00AM Boston Red Sox game, so it’s a pretty big deal in this neck of the woods. Those of you in other parts of the country can celebrate by watching JOHNNY TREMAIN, Walt Disney’s film about a young boy living in those Colonial times that led up to the birth of “a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal”.

Based on the 1943 Newbery Award-winning YA novel by Esther Forbes, the film tells the story of the Revolution through the eyes of young Johnny Tremain (Hal Stalmaster), a teen apprenticed to silversmith Mr. Lapham (crusty Will Wright

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RAMPAGE – Review by Case Wright, ALT Title – The Video Game Movie Curse Is Broken by Dwayne’s Awesome Arms!


I thoroughly enjoyed this film!! Why? Because it’s a Dwayne Johnson movie.  He’s an actor, a brand, and you know what you’re going to get.  EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.  Did it have a couple of slow moments?  Yep.  Were the characters, especially the villains, one dimensional or 8-Bit?  Sure.  But, so what? Rampage is fun and sometimes it’s great to take a bath in nostalgia and see some shit blow up.

A Dwayne Johnson movie is really a sub-genre all its very own.  I won’t compare it to other movies.  His movies are also fun because we just like Dwayne Johnson so much as a Man that we feel like he’s a friend.  It becomes reflexive that we hear Dwayne Johnson has a movie out, it’s as if one of our friends just made one.  I told a guy at work that I was going to see a Dwayne Johnson movie, he knew exactly what I meant, and he referred to Dwayne Johnson as a National Treasure.  Yes, we’re now getting married in the fall and are registered at Pottery Barn.

I played Rampage when I was a wee bairn.  In fact, with the help of my friend Robbie, we stayed up all night and destroyed the whole country. Congratulations! I, like every boy in the Y-Generation, was excited for this film.  Sidenote: sorry everyone, Millenials are no more, you’ve been folded into Y, but take heart – “Even children get older, I’m gettin older …too.”

An Evil Corporation, run ostensibly by Ivanka Trump and her Generic Trump brother, create a virus that mutate ordinary animals into genetically spliced super-creatures that run amok.  That’s it- that’s the plot- and like the video game upon which it was based, Rampage the Film is beautifully Wabi Sabi.

The film begins with The Rock who is closed off from people because after seeing their terrible acts in war and poaching, he just can’t let them in. *sniff*  The Rock’s best friend is George- an albino gorilla- who can sign.  Soon, the Trump family look alikes’ experiment accidentally infects George, a wolf, a crocodile, and a partridge in a pear tree. The Partridge Monster doesn’t actually destroy anything, but he blatantly re-gifts Christmas presents; therefore, he’s the worst monster of all because he destroys your self-esteem.

George, the wolf, and crocodile get BIGGER, the government – embodied by Jeffrey Dean Morgan- try to stop the monsters, but can’t.  Jeffrey becomes an ally of The Rock, helping him along the way with helicopter keys, air strikes, and lending him his edger so The Rock can really make his lawn POP for barbecue season.  The Trumps put out a signal to draw the monsters to Chicago, hoping they’ll kill each other off.  The Trumps hope that they’ll be able to take a sample of the monster flesh, replicate it, and sell it to whomever.  It doesn’t go well.  The monsters go nuts.  I’m not going to spoil anything.  Needless to say, the last 40 minutes of the film are amazingly satisfying.

Congratulations! Dwayne you’ve done it! The Video Game Curse is Broken.


Celebrating The Individual: Milos Forman, R.I.P.

Milos Forman passed away yesterday in Danbury, Connecticut.  He was 83 years old.

When the news of Forman’s passing first broke, many commentators focused on the fact that, over the course of his career, Forman accomplished something that few other directors have.  Forman not only directed two movies that won the Academy Award for Best Picture but he also won two directing Oscars.  On the surface level, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Amadeus may have looked like two very different films but both of them dealt with a nonconformist and the people who sought to destroy him.  Time and again, that was a theme to which Forman would return.

Loves of a Blonde (1965)

Even before Forman won his first Oscar, he had established himself as an important director.  As a young man, Forman survived the two greatest evils of the 20th Century, Nazism and Communism.  Both his mother and the man who he originally believed to be his father died in concentration camps during World War II.  After the war ended, Forman would discover that his real father was Otto Kohn, a Jewish architect who was also a survivor of the Holocaust.

The Fireman’s Ball (1967)

Forman started his film career working in the Czech Republic, which at that time was communist-controlled and known as Czechoslovakia.  Forman was one of the leading directors of the Czech New Wave, making films that took a satirical look at life under the communist regime.  It was during this time when he received his first two Oscar nominations, both for Best Foreign Language Film.  In 1968, Forman was fortunate enough to be in Paris when the Russians decided to invade Prague and put an end to all that subversive individual freedom.  While the new Czech goverment kept itself busy by banning all of his films, Forman moved to the United States.

Taking Off (1971)

Forman’s first film in the States was a satire called Taking Off, which failed at the box office but has since developed a cult following.  Despite the box office failure of Taking Off, Forman was hired to direct 1975’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, a film in which an authoritarian institution reacts to a nonconformist by ripping out part of his brain.  Not only did this film win the Academy Awards for picture and director but it also won awards for actor, actress, and screenplay.  One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest was the first film to win the big five awards since It Happened One Night.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

Forman continued to make films about nonconformists.  Hair was a film adaptation of the famous hippie musical.  Ragtime looked at early 20th century America through the eyes of a proud black man who refused to bow under the prejudice of the time.  Amadeus portrayed Mozart as a rock star and Salieri as a man who declared war on God, all the while trying to please a culturally illiterate ruler.  Later films like Valmont, The People vs. Larry Flynt, and The Man In The Moon were a bit more uneven but all of them featured moments that celebrated the right of the individual to refuse to go along with the crowd.

Ragtime (1981)

A master director of actors, Forman directed Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, and F. Murray Abraham to Oscar wins while Brad Dourif, Howard Rollins, Eizabeth McGovern, Tom Hulce, and Woody Harrelson were all nominated for performances that they gave in Forman films.

Milos Forman may be gone but his films will live on.

Amadeus (1984)

Best Served Cold: DEATH RIDES A HORSE (United Artists 1967; US release 1969)

cracked rear viewer

During a torrential rainstorm on a dark, bone-chillingly cold  night, a band of men guarding a cache of gold are all murdered by a masked outlaw gang. The marauders then enter the home of the leader, a married man with a family. He is the first to die, and after his wife and young daughter are brutally raped, they too are killed. But the marauders haven’t seen the little boy hiding in the shadows, witnessing his family’s violent demise. The house is burned to the ground, but the boy lives, storing the memory of the men who destroyed his family, until fifteen years pass, and the boy has become a man with an unquenchable thirst for revenge…

This dark, disturbing scene sets the stage for DEATH RIDES A HORSE, a gem of a Spaghetti Western directed with style by Giulio Petroni, made in 1967 but not released stateside until 1969…

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