Director Sam Peckinpah was one of the first mainstream directors to show bloody gore in his movies, but he shouldn't be remembered just for that. His films often had a nasty social commentary (especially Straw Dogs) that represented humanity at its most base.
The Wild Bunch was Peckinpah taking the Western genre and turning it upside down. It starts with a band of kids laughing as scorpions are devoured by ants, the first of the film's nods to evil kids. William Holden (in a role turned down by many A-list actors) plays Pike, leader of a band of outlaws in Mexico. The film's legendary climax, where many gallons of red paint were spilt, was one of the more violently graphic sequences of its time.
This was one of Holden's nastier parts, and one of his better roles. It's up there with his turns in Sunset Boulevard and Network. Holden had a knack for playing a heavy with a soft side.
My first ever "favorite actor" was Ernest Borgnine. My dad and I would make fun of the fact that he died in every movie he was in (not true ... he survived The Poseidon Adventure). Borgnine's death scenes were never bloodier than this one, although he did get eaten by rats in Willard.
Special Features: A two-disc set featuring some meaty documentaries on the film and the director. There's also a decent commentary contributed by Peckinpah historians. This can be purchased as part of the Sam Peckinpah's Legendary Westerns Collection. The collection gathers four films, including The Wild Bunch and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, which co-starred Bob Dylan (who also did the soundtrack).
One of last year's funnier movies is much better the second time around. That's because the lubby-dubby-themed final act is easier to digest, as opposed to the first viewing, when it's a little jarring.
Vince Vaughn delivered perhaps last year's funniest performance as a wedding crasher who gets roped into a frightening weekend with his partner (Owen Wilson) as his partner pursues the woman of his dreams (Rachel McAdams). In the process, Vaughn is duct-taped to his bed and assaulted twice--once by Gloria, a psycho "clinger" woman that he paired off with at a wedding, and again by her brother, Chad. The painting of Vaughn that Chad creates is a classic.
Vaughn and Wilson are in fine form, and Christopher Walken gets some laughs as the senator and patriarch to one weird family. McAdams is a delight, as always, as the love interest. She's a good actress who adds many dimensions to roles that others would've played flat, and I'm not just saying that because she's ridiculously beautiful. Isla Fisher should score more work after her hilarious performance as Gloria the Clinger.
Special Features: The "Uncorked" version of this film features a few cut scenes thrown back into the movie, and some of them are very funny. One where Chad curses out the ocean is quite memorable. There are two commentaries, including a very laid-back track with Wilson and Vaughn as they often allow themselves to get distracted. Director David Dobkin also delivers a commentary.
Buena Vista Home Entertainment bought the distribution rights to a whole bunch of Roger Corman films. Last week, the spotlight was on the legendary Death Race 2000. This week, it's this silly little film that tried to rip off Grease, but wound up being the predecessor to films like Fast Times at Ridgemont High and The Breakfast Club.
P.J. Soles plays a rebel high school student with rock-star aspirations. Her favorite rock group is a then-little-known band named The Ramones. When The Ramones plan a stopover in her hometown, she hatches an evil plan to ditch school, wait in line and buy tickets for everybody. When The Ramones actually do arrive, they serenade her in her bedroom during a marijuana-cigarette hallucination, and all hell breaks loose.
This could very well be the best movie with the Corman stamp on it. The laughs are plentiful, with some of them actually quite big. Best of all is the presence of The Ramones, who lip synch a few of their "hits," but also provide a real-deal concert near film's end that kicks ass. In that sense, the movie stands as an important milestone in rock-cinema history.
The back of the DVD sleeve states "In Loving Memory of Joey Ramone." What about the other 50 or 60 Ramones band members who have died in the last five years? Why didn't Dee Dee, Johnny, Sleepy, Dopey or Hortence Ramone merit an "In Loving Memory" sticker? The mystery might never be solved.
Special Features: A couple of commentaries and a short look back at the film are pretty underwhelming.