Freddy Rodriguez

Planet Terror

Year: 2007
Directed By: Robert Rodriguez
Written By: Robert Rodriguez

RYAN’S REVIEW

When this movie came out on DVD I bought it on the spot having not yet seen it. I watched it frequently after getting it and often fell asleep with it on. This movie goes back to menu when it’s over and that song plays over and over again if you don’t turn off your television. I have slept many a night with that song playing nonstop like a personal soundtrack through my dreams. It has been burned into a brain in such a way that when I am old and everything else is gone I will probably hum the tune from this film. I love the song and every single time I pop in the DVD I get this funny feeling from that music. It sucks me in and pulls something inside of me to the surface. That score, as much as anything else, is what makes this an awesome movie for me.

Another obvious thing that makes this movie awesome is the intro. Let me pose a question for anybody reading this now. Is there anything hotter than Rose McGowan in the opening scene of this movie? She is as sexy as any woman I have ever seen, barring my wife of course, dancing on stage to the music by Robert Rodriguez. I don’t understand why she has had such a limited career in acting over the years. I can’t really find any flaw in her talent and she is hot enough to pull off plenty of roles but for some reason she has been limited to films, more or less like this one. This was an intentional B movie and it was fitting for her being cast as she is mainly a B actress. I don’t understand why though. I think she is awesome in this movie and she portrays one of my favorite heroines of all time.

You can say whatever you want about Rose McGowan, but she is a badass as Cherry Darling. Not only is her opening dance scene smoking hot but when she gets her new leg she is an utter badass. I love when she launches herself over the wall and starts mowing down the infected soldiers while utilizing her dance moves. In a movie like this is doesn’t really matter how reasonable it is for a go-go dancer to suddenly become such a badass.  All that matters is what is and this just so happens to be really freakin cool.

I have written many times throughout this blog that when Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino collaborated on these Grindhouse films that Rodriguez proved to be the better filmmaker. Tarantino made what amounted to a 2 hour chick flick with a thrill ride at the end in his half of the collaboration, Death Proof. With this film Rodriguez not only made an awesome film, he did it all himself. He wrote this film, directed it, produced it, edited it, and even wrote the music for the film. It may have been an intentionally campy B movie but with this film he showcased a hell of a lot of talent. It’s one of the reasons I consider him such an incredible filmmaker. One thing Rodriguez never forgets as a filmmaker is the cool factor. I’ve always been a proponent of the cool factor in any movie. If it’s not cool then what good is it? You can just about guarantee that when Rodriguez gets behind camera what he produces will look cool. It may come out as overkill and sometimes even silly but it will be cool and you can take that to the bank.

This movie, if nothing else, is cool and that all starts with the cast. Rodriguez always gets a good group of latino actors into all his films but acting side by side with them are always A list actors. In the part of his misunderstood Latino badass he cast Freddy Rodriguez, no relation. He may have looked silly riding that tiny motorcycle at one point in the film but he fought with the ferocity of a samurai when wielding his butterfly knives in the hospital on his way to save Cherry. In the bad guy roles he has A list actors Bruce Willis and Josh Brolin. Now I have mentioned before I didn’t understand what rock Josh Brolin suddenly crawled out from under but it was right around the time this movie came out he did so. After doing nothing really noteworthy since 1985 in The Goonies he burst onto the map in 2007 with five films, this among them. Bruce Willis is an actor welcome in just about anything. I remember when I saw him in the G.I. JOE sequel I felt like these days he would do just about anything for the paycheck but movies since have proved he’s still got it. I hate what he continues to do with the Die Hard franchise but I could never honestly criticize Willis. He has been an awesome actor as long as I have been alive.

I love that Michael Biehn is in this movie. It’s one of the reasons it stands out to me. I have always been a fan of the original Kyle Reese and I have never understood why his career didn’t take off in other ways. He is part of one of my favorite parts in this movie. When the surviving group arrives at the BBQ joint his deputy, played by cult icon Tom Savini, asks him if he’s sure about this. In his hand Savini shakes a box label “All or Nothing Box.” When Biehn confirms Savini dumps the box full of badges on the hood of the car while Biehn tells everyone they have now been deputized. I love the concept of the “all or nothing box” and how obvious it is utilized in this movie. After arming all of them he walks up the hill and tells them, “don’t shoot each other, don’t shoot yourselves, and most importantly (he turns to face them) don’t shoot me!” Such an awesome actor how is it that Michael Biehn didn’t do more with his career? I don’t know the answer to that so if anybody does know please enlighten me, and I will not accept that he just isn’t a good actor when so many others made it and he didn’t.

I’m unfamiliar with Marley Shelton, and still haven’t seen her in anything else since this movie, but she is great as the nurse with her three little friends. I used to have a poster hanging in my home of her character Dr. Block holding up a syringe, mascara running down from her wild looking eyes, with the tag line “just a little prick.” I loved that poster but Amber won’t let me display it in our home anymore and I to agree it’s probably a bit much for our young children. I still have it though and one way or another it will one day have its place on display again.

I love how aggressive this movie is. It’s aggressive in so many ways. It is aggressively exaggerated and aggressively obvious at times. I think it is interesting to look back at a movie like this in 2007 and hear the big bad guy, Bruce Willis, claim to have been the soldier who killed Osama Bin Laden. Of course we know now that not only was he not dead in 2007 but he somehow continued to live his lavish lifestyle while alluding capture for more than a decade. My main point is that this movie now stands in an interesting place historically as it represents a time when we had no idea what had become of the world’s greatest enemy. The number one villain in American history had been unaccounted for for so long that a movie like this aggressively puts forth one of the many theories to what had to have happened. It represents American thinking in such an interesting way. The idea that he had simply gotten away wasn’t considered or accepted by the public as the great almighty United States would never allow such a man to escape punishment. We know now that not only did he do just that but he lived unencumbered for longer than anyone thought was possible.

I feel compelled to wrap this up now but I could never say enough about this movie. I’m not even satisfied with everything I have covered so far but have let it sit to long. It’s time to release it into the world. There is more to say about this movie though, and I encourage any film fan out there to see it. See it to compare the styles and abilities of Tarantino vs. Rodriguez. See it to learn the kind of thing the American public had about Osama Bin Laden 6 years after 9/11. See it because it is a cool movie that is fun to sit back and enjoy. It would be easy to pass of the Grindhouse films as a camp and nothing significant but that would be wrong. These movies are special because there is so much to get out of them. So much to enjoy about them. This is one of my favorite movies ever and I suggest it to all but the faint of heart that I simply don’t think could handle it.

One more thing because I can’t deal with the fact that I didn’t fit it in. Naveen Andrews is awesome in this movie and Hollywood needs more of this guy. I liked what he brought to the role and he has one of the coolest deaths in the film. Bound to spark argument, I am no a fan of Lost. I think J.J. Abrams is a terrific filmmaker but also a wizard when it comes to duping people into watching something like mindless zombies. Lost equals the carrot on a stick Abrams held in front of the American public for years before he could get his hands onto bigger and better things. I watched three seasons of it and to this day consider every hour of every episode I watch wasted and spitefully hold a grudge for the time I lost. I have had people argue with me about the show till they were blue in the face but as I am to understand the ending was just as vague as everything else on the show. You don’t put f-ing polar bears in the jungle and make the audience wonder why for years with no reason why, motherf-ing YEARS! My question to anybody is, “how is that good enough for you?” To this day I am still puzzled by the people who talk about how great it was. Nevertheless I consider J.J. Abrams to be quite capable and look forward to what he does with Star Wars.

NEXT MOVIE: Platoon (1986)

Havoc

Year: 2005
Directed By: Barbara Kopple
Written By: Stephen Gaghan and Jessica Kaplan

RYAN’S REVIEW

So a month or so ago I found myself watching the Academy Awards with Amber.  Despite how big of a movie fan I am I have never had much interest in watching this ceremony and prefer to just read who wins when it is all said and done.  Amber is a big fan of seeing it though and I was cool with watching it if it made her happy.  However, all I took away from watching it was that Anne Hathaway has an incredible set of breasts.  She wore a dress that displayed a significant amount of sideboob and it must have been a bit chilly in Hollywood that night because she was poking right through the front of that dress.  Needless to say, her boobs left an impression on me and I spent the following day discussing it with other chauvinistic male co-workers.  I have since had a hard time getting those lovely breasts out of my head and eventually came across this film and bought it without seeing it.  Yes, I am a pig that bought a movie specifically to see Anne Hathaway’s boobs but is that really a bad thing? The woman has it going on and I must say that I think they were worth the purchase to see.

To my surprise this film offered a lot more than simply a few glances of a big star’s boobies.  I genuinely thought it was a good movie and enjoyed seeing it. This is a story about some wankster rich kids who really think a lot of themselves until they find out just how privileged and fake they really are.  I guess “until” isn’t really appropriate because the wankster boys continue to think they are badass even after being shamed by real gangsters.  The shaming of them makes the girls start to think twice about them though and their fascination with bad boys leads them to take things farther with the real gangsters.  This movie is about how foolish young people can be and about the dangers of simply letting privileged kids run wild with no real parental authority. The movie is dedicated to someone in the end and at first I thought this implied the story was loosely based on real life experiences.  The dedication is not to anybody who had a similar experience though and is actually the writer of the film who died shortly before it was released.

The cast is the real strength of this movie and I think it’s interesting because this movie came out right before a few of them really took off.  The biggest star of course is Anne Hathaway who gives a very compelling and provocative performance.  I may have gotten this movie simply to see her boobs but I was literally blown away by her performance in general.  She is a very talented actress and I think the sky is the limit for her.  There is one scene in this movie in which my jaw dropped and I just literally could not believe what she was doing.  If you have seen this movie you no doubt know what I am talking about but if you haven’t you will know what I mean when you see her on the couch. Joseph Gordon-Levitt also blew up shortly after this movie came out but I doubt his performance in the film had anything to do with it.  He doesn’t play a bad part and in fact I think he did a great job but he is just playing such a pathetic character, one of the wankster kids who thinks he is bad.  Another one of those kids was played by Channing Tatum, who Hollywood can’t seem to get enough of now.  I happen to think this was probably one of the best roles he ever played.  Specifically because I don’t know that he actually said anything in the film.  Tatum may be a big star now but I maintain he is at his best when he says nothing at all because he is not a very good actor.

Bijou Phillips plays Hathaway’s main counterpart and ultimately the victim of the situation.  I am not really familiar with her but she looked great in the movie and we get to see her boobs too as an added bonus. Mike Vogel played the top wankster who gets shamed by the real gangster played by Freddy Rodriguez.  I only mention Vogel because he is playing a significant part in the upcoming TV series Under the Dome on CBS.  I was a big fan of the book and look forward to the adaptation, although I know it will probably be disappointing.  I like Rodriguez because he played the hero in one of my favorite movies, Planet TerrorPlaying the part of Hathaway’s parents are Michael Biehn and Laura San Giacomo and I have always liked both of them very much.  Giacomo’s part is too small in the movie to really mention but I have long since been a fan of Biehn since his many collaborations with James Cameron and he has a more significant role in the movie.  Raymond Cruz is in the movie as well playing the type of role he has always been typecast to, a Latino gangster.  His best role as such had to come in Breaking Bad when he played the hardcore drug dealer Tuco. He is listed as being in a couple of episodes when the show comes back on in August so keep an eye out for some Tuco flashbacks.

I really think this is a movie that all wankster wanna be kids should see.  They can play Billy Badass all they want but they are only kidding themselves.  When they finally grow up and look back on themselves at that age they will consider their behavior petty and stupid but more often than not by then it is too late. For the young privileged girls out there that want to be bad and push boundaries a film like this should come as a reality check.  The world is a dangerous place, especially for curious girls who don’t know what they are getting themselves into. I also think this film should be a reality check for parents of teenagers as well.  You can’t let things get this bad, and it is your responsibility to make efforts to know what your kids are getting into.

I think this is an interesting movie and enjoyed watching it. Aside from Anne Hathaway’s aggressive sexuality and willing nudity I thought there was plenty here that was worth seeing. I think it tells a compelling story about kids who go places they have no business being and suffer the consequences of their decisions.  It’s a movie and story that I think we can all learn from and that is always worth your time.  I have to say buying this movie was a win win for me, Anne Hathaway was totally worth it, and the movie was good to boot.

Dead Presidents

Year: 1995
Directed By: Albert and Allen Hughes
Written By: Albert and Allen Hughes

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie screamed out to us over the weekend from one of those convenient $5.00 movie bends Wal-Mart sticks all over the store these days.  Honestly I was just happy to find a movie I wanted. We own so many movies now that something that used to be so much fun often ends in disappointment now. I used to love looking through the media section of Wal-Mart and find DVDs at a good price I could add into the collection.  These days the only movies we buy are the new ones though and we hardly ever come across an older movie we both want.  I had seen this movie after it came out when I was much younger and always liked it.  Amber had never seen it before but had always wanted to see it so the decision was made.  Having re-watched it now with much more mature eyes I am really glad we decided to add it into the collection.

I was about 12 years old when I saw this movie for the first time and admittedly, there was plenty I wasn’t old enough to understand.  In all honesty it was a movie I probably shouldn’t have been allowed to watch but it had no nudity, which seemed to be the standard for what my parents would and wouldn’t let me to watch. This movie tells a story that has been told before, but this time through the eyes of an African American veteran.  Soldiers all around have a hard adjustment coming back to the world and that seems to be the ultimate theme to the movie.  While it is through the eyes of an African American there are not any real themes of racism throughout the film and I like that about it.  Racism was a real and serious issue at the time but it is an awful reality I don’t enjoy seeing brought up in films.  We all need to understand the dangers of such feelings but there are plenty of films out there that convey those messages, they don’t all need to and I am thankful this one chose to tell a different story.

In this movie Larenz Tate plays a young African American who grows up in The Bronx and is drafted into The Vietnam War.  He spends four years there serving multiple tours and distinguishing himself well but when he returns back to the world he has trouble adjusting as so many soldiers do. He has a girlfriend that he got pregnant before leaving but she has had to survive without him while he was overseas.  To support her child she had to turn to a less than savory man to provide for her and that is specifically hard for him to deal with.  He has difficulty getting a job and the job he manages to get isn’t good enough.  When he gets laid off from that job he turns to crime in his desperation.  Tate plays a character we can relate to and understand. What he does is wrong, but he didn’t deserve to be called a disgrace by the judge who sentences him in the end played by Martin Sheen.  Sheen’s comment that he was a veteran himself who fought in “a real war” speaks volumes to the way many saw the conflict in Vietnam.  Tate’s character is given no mercy in his sentencing and is destine to spend the rest of his life in prison serving time for the country he fought for in a thankless and unappreciated effort.  Tate does a great job in the lead role and I have always liked him.  I know him better from his role on Rescue Me when he played “Black Shawn,” a great show that fell apart in its closing seasons.

I really liked the supporting cast around Tate as well.  I have always liked Chris Tucker although I don’t know what has happened to him lately.  He plays a soldier that begins using heroin while in the service and comes home to become an all out junkie, a problem shared by many vets returning from Vietnam.  I think Keith David is awesome in everything he is in from Platoon to There’s Something About Mary. In this movie he plays a Korean vet who mentors the younger guys going into Vietnam.  Bokeem Woodbine plays a soldier who is completely insane in the jungles of Vietnam but comes home to be a preacher, although he still joins his old comrades in the illegal heist.  Freddy Rodriguez plays one of Tate’s childhood friends who serves in a different unit in the war and comes home with only one hand.  The only other movie I have seen Rodriguez in was Planet Terrorbut that one is real high up on my favorites list.  N’Bushe Wright looks awesome dual wielding pistols in this movie; the only other film I have seen her in is the first Blade. She is a very beautiful woman; I’m not sure why I haven’t seen her in more films.  There is a really young Terrence Howard in this movie playing a rival of Tate’s who has stayed in The Bronx during the Vietnam War and works for the man who took care of Tate’s family.

This movie is loosely based on the real life experiences of a soldier who came back from the Vietnam War but I don’t know anything about how accurate it was.  The real story can be found in the book Bloods: An Oral History of the Vietnam War by Black Veterans written by Wallace Terry.  If you are insterested in it I would suggest you find the book and find out for yourself how much this movie correlates with real life.  The soldier the events were partly based on was named Haywood T. Kirkland.  Whether the movie is accurate at all hardly matters here though because the story it tells is true enough.  Veterans from all wars have a hard time coming back to the real world and this movie does a great job of highlighting the many difficulties some of them face.

I am really glad we decided to buy this movie over the weekend and I really enjoyed watching it again.  It tells an interesting and important story about Vietnam as well as delivering on action and drama alike.  If nothing else the robbery scene is awesome.  The way the robbers paint their faces are distinctly memorable.  This is a good movie and I would recommend it to anyone, it is worth your time if you have an opportunity to see it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I had never seen this movie before. I know that many friends have talked about this movie and I have even seen people dress up like these guys at Halloween. I was sucked into this movie from the very beginning. I really liked the main character in Rescue Me, so I was curious to see him in a different role.

Here is the poster for Dead Presidents. This came out in 1995. I feel like the poster resembles its time. I like the photo on the front. It intrigues you in some ways to wonder what this is about, which is ultimately the point of most posters. I am not a huge fan of the font choice, which is simply the font for American money. I felt like that was a little cliché.

This movie is well worth the time.