Tag: Burt Reynolds

MOVIE REVIEW | In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege tale (2007)

In a nutshell, Bored & dangerous says: “A great ensemble cast all acting like they’re in different movies.”

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“Wisdom… is our hammer.”

At this point, director Uwe Boll seems more like a myth and urban legend, than he does an actual film maker.  He’s the bloke who for years exploited a loop hole in the German tax system to make one shitty video game adaption after another.  He’s the dude who challenged his critics to fisticuffs, and actually faced several of them in the ring.  I’m not a big believer in movies being so bad they’re good.  There’s the odd exception, like The Room or Birdemic series.  But generally, I think a bad movie is just a bad movie.  Uwe Boll however, has made such a fascinating career out of it that I felt like I needed to see at least one of his “movies”.  Which is why I dedicated two entire hours of my life to In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale.

In a fantasy world castle, a young princess (Leelee Sobieski) is being bedded by a creepy old man, Gallian (Ray Liota).  Cut to Farmer (Jason Statham) proudly tending his modest fields, teaching his son the values of good, hard work.   Old friend Norick (Ron Perlman) arrives, suggesting they join the king’s army where they’d both make a lot more money.  But Farmer rejects the idea, content to live the quiet life with his family. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Citizen Ruth (1996)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “Even with the hindsight of the rest of Alexander Payne’s, Citizen Ruth has a fresh, unique feel to it.”

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“I slept in a few dumpsters. Maybe I slept on some babies.”

Besides directing segments in a couple of soft core pornos for Playboy, director Alexander Payne is definitely on the prestigious side.  He’s made six features, five of which have all scored Oscar nominations of some description.  None of which take place in America’s usual movie locations like New York, LA and Chicago.  Alexander Payne tells stories about middle America, or in the case of The Descendants, Hawaiian America.  These unusual, uncommon settings are always filled with unusual, uncommon characters.  Is he making fun of these places and their inhabitants?  Is he celebrating them?  It’s a fine line that Payne walks expertly.  And he’s done so since the very beginning, as evidenced by his feature debut, Citizen Ruth.

Unmoving and with a look of complete boredom and detachment, Ruth (Laura Dern) lays under a filthy man in a filthy apartment as he pumps away.  When it’s done, Ruth doesn’t even get the one thing she wanted from it, a bed for the night.  The man kicks her out, sending Ruth to her brother Tony, (Jim Kalal) looking for a place to stay.  Instead she gets his disgust and $15.  Enough to buy a can of spray paint from the local hardware store to get high and OD.  Taken to the emergency room, Ruth recovers to the news that she is, in fact, pregnant.  With four kids already taken away from her by the state, the fed up Judge Richter (David Graf) imprisons Ruth for endangering her unborn child. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “Self aware enough to know this is a slight, fun, almost goofy.”

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“You know, it’s always a business doing pleasure with you, Charlie!”

Aaaah, 1982, a time when you’d be hard pressed to find two bigger stars than Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds.  Dolly can still sell out live shows all over the world these days, but I can’t imagine she’s attracting many new fans under 40.  And poor old Burt did his best to immediately squander the comeback Paul Thomas Anderson gave him via Boogie Nights almost 20 years ago.  But thanks to the wonder of film, it’s possible to relive those glory days of 1982 when these two were at their best, via The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.

For the last century or more, a brothel nicknamed the Chicken Ranch has operated on the outskirts of small town Gilbert, Texas.  It’s the kind of community that openly accepts the house of not so ill repute, welcoming it as a necessary service for the town’s men, young and old, and is even a source of income for the town.  These days, the Chicken Ranch is run by madam Miss Mona (Parton).  She keeps her women and the patrons clean and healthy, and contributes generously to the local community. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Dolly Parton – Coat of Many Colors (1971)

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‘Punchline’ is a strong word.  But when I was growing up, Dolly Parton was long past her prime as a respected country super star.  She was the chick with massive cans, the theme park named after herself and the wardrobe of nothing less than pure excess.  In my house, she was also Burt Reynolds‘ co-star in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, a movie that got watched more often than I could ever understand with hindsight.


In the last decade or so, she’s moved passed those 80s and 90s years of pastiche and self parody, and moved into the glory years of elder statesmanship.  But before all of that, there were those years and years of being a respected country super star.  I’m trying to see what all the fuss was out back then, with Coat of Many Colors. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***BURT WEEK*** Gator (1976)

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In 1984, we got Revenge of the Nerds.  One of the greatest raunch fest movies of the 80s.  It was crude, overflowing with nudity and made for a very specific audience of teenage horn bags.  Because it was such a surprise success, it spawned a sequel three years later, Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise.  Not content with aiming for a other surprise cult hit, they went all out, chasing a mainstream audience.  Toning down everything that made the first movie so unique, Nerds in Paradise was the kind of cookie cutter, bland nothing of a movie everyone expected the first one to be before they saw it.  While 1973’s White Lightning didn’t have the same impact on me as Revenge of the Nerds, you can see the exact same studio thinking is more than likely what lead to its sequel, Gator.


Returned from another stint in prison and leading the quiet life of a bootlegger on a swamp with his father and daughter, Gator McKlusky’s (Burt Reynolds) life doesn’t stay quiet for long.  The state Governor knows his re-election depends on cleaning up one small county, run by crime boss Bama McCall (Jerry Reed).  The Governor calls in Irving Greenfield (Jack Weston), a New York law man who blackmails Gator into helping them track down McCall.

The blackmail turns into a genuine respect and friendship as Gator learns the real extent of McCall’s crimes and ruthlessness.  Nothing gets an audience to hate a character more than under aged prostitution.  Soon, Gator’s determined to take down McCall, not just to save himself, but because it’s the right thing to do.  You see, this is a sequel, so Gator has to be a little more watered down and noble now.

I would never call White Lightning a classic, but it did have an edge to it that is clearly missing from Gator.  While the first movie was content to revel in its white trash, swamp people, red neck glory, there’ a clear attempt to make Gator a little more appealing to a wider audience.  He has a young daughter now, he’s fighting a much more evil enemy, he’s on the side of the law, everything that makes the character of Gator a little less interesting and little more easily digestible.

After being a huge Smokey and the Bandit fan all my life, it was kind of interesting to see Reynolds and Reed play off each other as enemies, instead of the best friends in movie history as the Bandit and the Snowman.  Reed is fine as a baddie, making the most of what he’s given, and a couple of showdowns between him and Reynolds are fun enough, but there just isn’t enough there for the actors to really make anything from.

This is a story about swampy, moonshine bootleggers getting caught up in some crazy shit.  There are car chases, a forced in romance and lots of red neckery.  Those ingredients sound to me like they should add up to some goofy, B-movie fun.  And in White Lightening, they did.  But in Gator, everyone just got a little too carried away thinking they were making something more.

Gator
Directed By – Burt Reynolds
Written By – William W. Norton

MOVIE REVIEW | ***BURT WEEK*** Sharky’s Machine (1981)

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Ah, 1981.  A time when a supposedly likeable, good guy police officer character investigating a murder could say things like, “This the same one who iced that chink hooker?”  A time when even the progressive characters had no idea how racist or misogynistic they were.  A simpler time, when Burt Reynolds was given the director’s chair and the money to make Sharky’s Machine.


After a street shootout leaves a perp dead and an innocent bystander injured, tough Narcotics cop, Tom Sharky (Reynolds) is busted down to working Vice, the lowest job in the police department.  Seemingly surrounded by has beens, rookies and those cops who just can’t cut it, Sharky’s new assignment means low level cases, arresting low level thugs and dealing with low level crimes.  Or busy work, like babysitting a local politician.  Until a routine hooker arrest turns out to be connected to a double murder and the babysat politician.

Calling in a favour from his more prestigious days on the force, Sharky begins some surveillance.  Some sexy, sexy surveillance.   And by that, I mean some really creepy surveillance.  Now Sharky and his Vice colleagues are mixed up in a crime much bigger than their department should ever handle, and their reputation as nothing to be taken seriously makes them the perfect underdogs to take down the man.

While Reynlods surveillance work as Sharky might be a bit creepy, his work as a director goes balls out freaky, deeky creepy.  A scene where the surveilled woman seduces a gentleman visitor is cheesier than any nachos you’ve ever eaten, yet not even in a funny way.  Just in a leering, sleazy way.

Sharky’s Machine is extremely by the numbers, predictable and nothing you haven’t seen dozens of times before.  The only thing extraordinary about this movie is how extraordinarily unremarkable and beige it is.  Even a karate guy with nun chucks is boring in this movie.  How do you make a karate dude with nun chucks boring?  If I had to make a list of the most not boring things in the world, you’d better believe that a karate dude with nun chucks is making that list.  And ranking pretty high too.  Like maybe just under a monkey dressed as a cowboy riding a dog like a horse.

I think all of these negative things are true about Sharky’s Machine, but I have to be honest and say that I can’t say these things are definite facts.  The truth is, this movie lost my attention early and often, meaning long stretches would pass and I would all of a sudden realise that I’d long ago zoned out and had not consciously watched or taken anything in for some pretty substantial portions.

Burt Reynolds really outdid himself with the ineffectiveness of this movie.  In parts it’s a thriller with now thrills, an action movie with very little action, erotic titillation with no eroticism.  I don’t expect highbrow art or prestige film making from Reynolds, but I do expect big, easily accessible entertainment.  Sharky’s Machine is a level of bland, boring, vanilla movie making, storytelling and acting that I really didn’t think Reynolds was capable of.

Sharky’s Machine
Directed By – Burt Reynolds
Written By – Gerald Di Pego 

MOVIE REVIEW | ***BURT WEEK*** White Lightning (1973)

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When I was a kid, between the ages of about 6 and 12, I don’t know if there were any movies I saw more times than the first two Smokey and the Bandits.  I thought Burt Reynolds was the coolest dude in the world, and his Trans-Am was the coolest car in the world.  Not seen as often, but still in pretty regular rotation in my childhood lounge room were the first two Reynolds filled  Cannonball Run movies (also popular in my house was the Reynolds / Dolly Parton team up, The Best Little Whore House in Texas.  But that should probably be talked about in therapy, not here).


Those Reynolds movies of the 70s and early 80s were just too simple to cock up.  Give him a fast car and let him revel in all his hilarious, charismatic, egotistical glory.  Which is why, I was so pumped to find out that the Reynolds car chase phenomenon started before Smokey and the Bandit.  It started three years earlier, with White Lightning.

As Gator McKlusky, Reynolds uses his skills behind the wheel as a moon shine runner in Louisiana.  But when his straight laced, college student younger brother is killed by local moonshiners, Gator decides to take the organisation down, including local the Sherriff (Ned Beatty).

There’s a funny moment towards the end when White Lightning attempts to dabble in some topical themes when it’s revealed Gator’s little brother was a protesting some sort of generic conservative action of the era.  But it comes off as more cluelessly funny than in any way insightfully scathing or intelligent.  There’s an even weirder, more jarring and clueless tone at the very end that made the whole movie seem different in those closing seconds.

The plot is paper thin, the characters are less than one dimensional (if that’s possible), and most of the performances are amateur at best.  Which is exactly what you need in a movie like White Lightning.  The last thing you want is a story that makes you think, or compelling characters played by competent actors.  I wouldn’t want to risk any of that distracting me from the amazingness that is Burt Reynolds, driving a car, stealing hearts and dropping his signature laugh every 10 to 15 minutes.

After White Lightning, director Joseph Sargent didn’t have the most illustrious career.  There are a lot of tele movies, and what is regarded as possibly the worst sequel in the history of sequels, Jaws: The Revenge.  But he did make one of the all time great 70s B-movies, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three.  As cheap and nasty as White Lightning might be, there’s a definite film making skill and visual style to it.  Combined with the gritty cool of Pelham just one year later, it really makes me wish Sargent had been given more of a chance.   There’s a sweaty, dirty edge to both movies that makes them more effective than their sensationalist, low rent story lines would suggest.

White Lightning
Directed By – Joseph Sargent
Written By – William W. Norton
 

MOVIE REVIEW | ***BURT WEEK*** The Longest Yard (1974)

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In the 70s, I can’t imagine a better example of movie mandom than Burt Reynolds.  He seems to have played the same character over and over in those days, but that’s OK, the one character Reynolds played was awesome enough to get away with it.  But as fun and self aware as something like Smokey and the Bandit or The Cannonball Run might be, I assume he also wanted to be seen as a serious actor.  Which is everything I didn’t like about The Longest Yard.


Burt Reynolds is Paul Crewe, a washed up and disgraced ex-pro footballer.  After being kicked out by his sugar mamma, loaded up on booze and drugs, Paul leads the local cops in a carnage filled car chase that lands him in prison.  As soon as he arrives, his notoriety as a football star gets the attention of prison Warden Hazen (Eddie Albert) and head guard, Captain Knauer (Ed Lauter).  As the guards train for their on semi-pro team, the Warden decides they need a warm up game, against the prisoners, trained and lead by Paul.

Reluctant at first, he eventually takes to the idea and starts recruiting prisoners for his team.  Banding together the biggest freaks, psychos and unstable weirdos in the place, a team starts to form.  A team built entirely on their desire to physically harm the guards under the guise of a game of football.  There’s also a racial thing about whether or not he black prisoners will play, which is by far the clunkiest part of a pretty clunky movie.

I think The Longest Yard was trying to say something, and go beyond the standard slops versus snobs formula.  The only problem is, the more it tried to say these things, the more it revealed its own narrow mindedness.  The racial politics may have been kind of progressive in 1974, but watching it 40 years later, it’s kind of offensive.

The one thing The longest Yard gets completely right though, is its reliance on its star.  If you were making a movie with Burt Reynolds in 1974, a lot of your hard work was already done for you. Just point a camera at him, let Burt Reynolds be Burt Reynolds, and you’re well on your way to having an extremely watchable movie on your hands.

It also gives him more room to spread his acting wings than you’d expect from a movie about prisoners playing guards in a game of football.  The climactic game, which takes up almost half of the movie’s two hour running time, lets Reynolds go through a range of emotions and character growth.  It goes from funny, to uplifting, to tragic, to fist pumpingly triumphant.  And Reynolds more than delivers on the lot.

But in the end, not even that signature Burt Reynolds cool was enough to save this move for me.  It wasn’t exactly a chore to watch, but I could feel every single minute tick by, waiting for the end credits.  The Longest Yard is dated in all the worst possible ways.  It never really reaches the levels of campy, goofy, 70s corniness.  Instead, it just reminds you of the worst things about that time.  The small minded, conservative , wrong headed masculinity.  The actual game is kind of entertaining, but like the rest of the movie, it would have only benefited from being cut in half.

The Longest Yard
Directed By – Robert Aldrich
Written By – Tracy Keenan Wynn

 

MOVIE REVIEW | ***DUD SEQUEL WEEK*** Smokey and the Bandit Part 3 (1983)

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I love Smokey and the Bandit.  I love Smokey an the Bandit II even more.  Not ironically, not in a kitschy way, and I’d like to think it’s not even all based on nostalgia.  I think Burt Reynolds in the 70s and early 80s had a kind of charisma as the Bandit that was unequalled.  I think Sally Field was the perfect, adorable chick to play the love interest, Frog.  I think Jackie Gleason’s performance as Buford T Justice is a master class in broad, character comedy.  I think Jerry Reed nailed it as the Bandit’s sidekick Snowman.  It is for all of those reasons that I have always avoided the Reynolds and Field-free Smokey and the Bandit Part 3.  Until now.


This movie is so bad and so ignored, I can’t even find a trailer on Youtube. All I can find is the trailer for the original cut of the movie that never even got released, where Mason was going to play both roles of Smokey and the Bandit. Now, while that sounds absolutely terrible, at least it sounds crazy enough to be a little interesting, unlike the version that was released.

A common sign that a sequel might struggle to reach the highs of its predecessor is the promotion of supporting players to more prominent roles.  Think Frenchy in Grease 2, or Joe Pesci in Lethal Weapon 3.  Well, in Smokey and the Bandit Part 3, not only do we get the Snowman promoted to the role of the Bandit, we also get the comic relief characters of Big and Little Enis bumped up to major supporting characters.  In the first two movies, they make bets that send the Bandit off on his adventure and Buford T Justice off in hot pursuit.  In Part 3,they make the bet to kick things off, then pop up constantly, trying to hinder both sides’ attempts to win. They’re funny in little doses, just outright annoying when peppered throughout.

So the story is, Buford T Justice is retiring.  We learn this in a spoof of the famous George C Scott opening scene from Patton where he addresses the camera (his troops) in front of American flag.  This is after an opening titles spoof on Star Wars and a long montage of clips from the first two movies that shows Reynolds’ signature laugh no less than three times.  Two spoofs of iconic cinematic landmarks, shoehorning in as much footage of the absent star as possible…  I have a feeling the film makers weren’t too confident about this one.

But back to Buford’s retirement, he heads to Florida with his “tick turd” son and never seen wife, soon realising retirement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  His boredom makes him accept a bet from the Enises to make a cross country road trip in a designated amount of time.  You know, like the Bandit had to do in the first one.  And the second one.

Once they think Buford might actually succeed, the Enises decide to enlist the help of the Bandit.  But not the original, for convoluted reasons that don’t make any sense, Jerry Reed’s Snowman decides to take on the persona and take the job of the all new Bandit, Trans-Am and all.  But not the awesome Trans-Am of the Reynolds era.  It’s a cheap, plastic looking 80s Trans-Am that has none of the balls or character of the 70s original.  It’s sort of like the car equivalent of downgrading from Burt Reynolds to Jerry Reed.

What happens in the story doesn’t matter.  There are hints of the Snowman / Bandit learning a lesson about ego and realising you should accept who you are instead of trying to be someone else.  But it never really goes anywhere.  There’s a clunky moment of genuine affection shoehorned in between Justice and his always abused son Junior, but it never feels earned.  Smokey and the Bandit Part 3 really is the lazy, exploitative, half assed, last gasp of breath sequel that makes you scared all sequels are going to be a lazy, exploitative, half assed, last gasps.

Smokey and the Bandit Part 3
Directed By – Dick Lowry
Written By – Stuart Birnbaum, David Dashev

MOVIE REVIEW | The Lost Weekend (1945)

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Ever get worried that you’re too happy?  That life is too good?  That your future is too bright?  If you ever think your mood needs to be taken down a notch and that a quick injection of depression is required, The Lost Weekend is the movie for you.  If you really want to get crazy with the bring downs, make it a double feature with Days of Wine and Roses.  Bugger it, go all the way, triple bill those two bring downs with Leaving Las Vegas, then get ready for a night of cold sweats and deep regrets, even if you’ve never touched a drop.


Yep, The Lost Weekend is another delightful romp into the world of alcoholism.  And not the fun kind of alcoholism like Burt Reynold’s character hiding booze in a lamp shade in Smokey and the Bandit II.  But the full blown, balls to the wall, depressing kind of alcoholism, like Ray Millan’s character hiding booze in a lamp shade in The Lost Weekend.  Strap yourself in, because while this is a pretty amazing movie, it’s not pretty.

One thing that really stood out to me about The Lost Weekend is that it’s not a story about a man’s descent into alcoholism.  Ray Millan’s Don Birnam has already hit rock bottom before the opening scene is set.  His brother and girlfriend are helping him pack for a weekend of drying out in the country.  Even as the shot ripples and fades into a flashback, the movie still resists telling the origins of his problem.  Instead, it tells the origin of his relationship with his girlfriend Helen St James, played by Jane Wyman.  When they meet, he’s already well and truly in the bottle.

Directed by Billy Wilder, The Lost Weekend was his first big Academy Awards success, bagging four Oscars.  Before this, Wilder had made Double Indemnity and would go on to make classics like Sunset Boulevard, Some Like it Hot and The Apartment.  And while they all have their own feeling of darkness (Some Like it Hot accepted), The Lost Weekend really did stand out to me as one of his most intimately dark stories.  Rarely widening the story beyond central character Don Birnam, his girlfriend and his brother, Wilder somehow creates a grand, high stakes feeling out of a really small story.

Set in New York, with all exteriors shot there, this is a great look at the city, and life in general, almost seventy years ago.  It also leads to one of the very few off notes in The Lost Weekend.  A struggling writer, Millan attempts to pawn his typewriter for booze money.  In a conversation with a Jewish dude, it’s revealed every pawn shop in New York is owned by Jews or Irishmen.  I don’t know if this is accurate to the period or a lazy stereotype on the part of Wilder and co-writer Charles Brackett, but watching it in 2013, the exchange really jumped out at me in a not so good way.

The other minor problem I have with The Lost Weekend is the overly tidy, convenient ending.  After seeing Millan go through so much and sink so low, the conclusion comes a little too suddenly.  And while it doesn’t necessarily give away what his future holds, I thought it made it a little too definite.  With a character as complex as Don Birnam, I could have done with just a bit more grey area in his final minutes.

Watch the full movie, streaming for free HERE
Directed By – Billy Wilder
Written By – Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder