Just A Couple Of Knuckleheads From Back In The Day

Today my best friend Yaz is turning twenty-three and today I’d like to address him directly.  When I write for this here blog, I usually do my best to cast as wide a net as is humanly possible but today, I’m not going to pretend like of the fifteen people who visited the Desk last month, ten of them weren’t actually Yaz accessing from different IP’s (the other five were confused Iranian gentlemen who were actually looking to purchase reasonably priced furniture, for which I heartily recommend they seek out the good people at Ikea).

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A Critical Appreciation of Explosions: Mad Max

A Critical Appreciation of Explosions continues on in all it’s blood- and gore-soaked glory, this time with another generous contribution from Yaz. 

Mad Max  is an important movie. It launched the career of Mel Gibson– who, psychotic-manchild antics aside, went on to do some absolutely phenomenal work –it helped launch an entire culture of Australian action films, the main character is pretty obviously the inspiration for The Punisher, the entire aesthetic of the Fallout games is a love letter to the film and its sequels, and the final five minutes of it inspired all 12-odd hours of the Saw franchise.

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A Critical Appreciation of Explosions: RoboCop

For the 2nd post in this series, here’s a terrifically well-written guest post from Yaz

If you were to ask me to name my five favorite science fiction movies, the list would go as follows:

A Clockwork Orange. Videodrome. Minority Report. RoboCop. Blade Runner.

 There’s no irony there, no tongue-in-cheek, so-bad-it’s-good appeal. I love RoboCop. It is one of my favorite movies. It’s one of the best action movies ever made and it has a lot of depth to it. Ken Russell (director of Tommy and the film version of Lawrence’s Women in Love) described it as “the best science fiction film since Metropolis.” Roger Ebert compared it to Chaplin’s Modern Times. It’s the director of Showgirls and a cyborg tromping around, spouting monotone one-liners and fighting the most 80’s villains imaginable, but out of it all come some really complex ideas and a startling amount of heart and pathos. It is a great film, and the fact that anyone on Earth could think otherwise, well–that’s the kind of crime not even RoboCop himself could stop.

“I have to go. Somewhere, a critical misinterpretation is happening.”

So come with me, now, to the ruins of Old Detroit, and let’s look at the elements that make this film so damn amazing (and, by the way– I’m going to be consulting the Director’s Cut of the film, which goes heavier on the satire and the blood). Continue reading

Death Proof: A Salute to Stuntmen I

I’ve garnered an immense amount of respect for the action film genre in my life, even holding onto the dream for a few years when I was a kid that one day I’d be a stuntman and get paid to jump-kick off of walls with a Beretta in one hand and another fucking Beretta in the other.  I vividly recall moments from my childhood that began with me and/or my cousins (usually “and”) daring each other to do something ridiculously dangerous, ultimately and inevitably ending with something being caught on fire.  When my dad gave me a video camera one summer, we realized how tame our ideas had always been – with the advent of cinema into the equation, the flood gates of stupid opened up and we busily went about trying to out-do ourselves.

My wrist still clicks like a motherfucker after the go-kart went too wide and I flew off my skateboard and broke it (my wrist, not my skateboard).  No fires that day, but I guarantee we would have gotten to it if I hadn’t had to be a little bitch and go to the hospital.

The stunts are, obviously, what make any action movie worth watching.  It damn sure isn’t the plot I liked about The Transporter.  Without these men, women and their impressive brass balls, some of my favorite cinematic experiences would never have happened.  I personally don’t want to think of a world without Lethal Weapon.  Somewhere out there is an alternate reality in which Jean Claude Van Damme is an accountant and it is just wrong to even think about.

And so, Hollywood Stunt Association, today I salute you and the brilliant work you’ve done by starting what’s going to be an on-again/off-again series – a celebration of the action film genre.   

Today, the faces of franchises – the action stars.  Guys who, at a certain point, said This is what I will do now.  Not to break out into “serious” acting, not just for the paycheck – but the guys who legitimately made the genre their life’s work, pouring their damn hearts into it.

Read on for my (and Yaz‘s) personal favorites. Continue reading