Thursday, June 09, 2016

Samurai Cop (1991)

Samurai Cop (1991)

In the pantheon of cult films Samurai Cop stands as one of the greats. It was directed by the Iranian director Amir Shervan who, after fleeing the revolution in his home country, decided to move to America to make amazing direct-to-video films starring Robert Z’Dar (as one does). Z’Dar, for those inclined towards more reputable (boring) cinema and who therefore are unacquainted with his masterful filmography, is among the most recognizable and glorious B-movie “That Guy!”’s in the history of people building movies. Z’Dar was as wonderful an artist as his name implies, a hulking man who previous to his acting career worked as both a Chicago cop and a Chippendales dancer (one can only hope he pursued these careers concomitantly). Z’Dar was also the owner of the most transcendent chin in the history of people having chins. Z’Dar’s most well-known role may be in the excellent 1989 action movie Tango & Cash, though B-movie aficionados will forever praise his thespianism in such classics as Maniac Cop (1988), Maniac Cop 2 (1990), and Fugitive X: Innocent Target (1996). (I’ve actually never seen that last one but it has to be great). Z’Dar, due to his formidable Chippendale’s physique and massive chin, was often cast as a hulking monster of one sort or another, a modern day Tor Johnson, but Amir Shervan broke the mold in this regard and has Z’Dar playing the slick and charming supervillain Yamashita in Samurai Cop. Z’Dar even gets a sex scene, which is a beautiful thing to behold indeed. I feel relatively secure in my heteronormative cisgenderedness but I would not have thrown Robert Z’Dar out of bed, had the opportunity ever presented itself.

The beautiful Robert Z'Dar as "Yashamita"

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

The only currency worth a damn in this bankrupt world - Remembering Philip Seymour Hoffman

I first remember seeing Philip Seymour Hoffman as the preppy George Willis Jr. in Scent of a Woman. It wasn't exactly the most demanding of roles. George is the antithesis to Chris O'Donnell's character, a silver spoon sleazebag who seemingly bullies young Charlie Simms into keeping his mouth shut after the two of them witness some particularly destructive hijinks committed by the cool kids on campus. At the end of the film George is shown to be nothing but a scared daddy's boy who is willing to rat out his friends to save his own skin while Charlie, with no small help from Pacino in full on whoooooohah mode, decides that honor, dignity, and loyalty are more important than either false friendships or saving his own skin.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Suspense (1913) by Lois Weber

I started watching the wonderful documentary series "The Story of Films: An Odyssey." One remarkable aspect of the series is the attempt to rectify the deliberate omission of women and nonwhite directors in the historical development of cinema. Women directors and writers were hugely influential in developing the language of film. This 1913 film by director Lois Weber was among the first to utilize many of the editing techniques and shot selections that today are considered essentials of the film lexicon. It's also got an amazing split screen that would make DePalma salivate and some great action and stunt sequences.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Sweet bird of resignation

It's about three forty five in the AM and I'm being an old man, sitting here with a cup of chamomile tea and waiting for an order of sand to be thrown into my eyes by the sandman himself but he ain't showing up on time, for whatever reason. Might as well blacken some pages.

I've been thinking and writing quite a bit as of late on the theme of resignation. This particular word gets used a lot in the existentialist tradition, which is a genre of philosophy centered on the lived experience of the human person, as opposed to the kind of philosophy that is centered on some bullshit, abstract theory that has nothing whatsoever to do with anything remotely resembling human life (read = most philosophy). Resignation is also important in a lot of the grand spiritual traditions. Our Buddha friends call it detachment, the Stoics called it apatheia, and The Dude called it Not Giving a Fuck. Whatever you call it, it's an important principle. A real gasser, as Louie Armstrong used to say.