January 31st, 2006



think I have a problem, a DVD problem. I've already bought 7 of them this week... and it's only Tuesday. This of course, is in addition to the 8 movies I'm allowed from Netflix at one time. It's beginning to surpass my music addiction, which has been admittedly waning over the past couple of years. Anyway, here's what been in my eyes.

Corrupt Lieutenant (aka Cop Killer) (1983)
Director: Roberto Faenza
Cast: Harvey Keitel, John Lydon
Of interest: score by Ennio Morricone

Despite Keitel's usual on-screen suave, the eye/ear candy that was a young John Lydon offering a passable performance, Morricone's interesting score, applaudable cinematography and deft direction, still, this movie will forever be relegated to a curiosity in the bargain bin. Why? It's one of those movies that had a lot of promise in the script and you just know Keitel was pissed with the way the movie was butchered in post-production editing. It's really hard to watch some times. At other times, you get lost in the plot because things have been cut in the editing room to keep the movie pared-down under what already seems like a long two hours.

Sex Pistols - Never Mind The Bollocks (2000)

Released the same year as the other Sex Pistols documentary of note The Filth and The Fury. Whereas, the latter focused more on the band's impact on rock music, pop culture, and society at-large, this film deals solely with how the band came together and recorded their only studio album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols. All four original members as well as manager Malcolm McLaren give interviews in addition to a handful of music journalists. They rehash some of the Pistols' more infamous exploits and amazingly seem to have their stories straight for the most part. What's most interesting about this documentary is the interview footage with Bill Price, who was the recording engineer. Price conducts his interview in front of a sound board with the master tapes from the album. As the documentary found its way through all the tracks on the album, Price would play tracks from the master tapes, highlighting different things about each song that he found interesting. Eventually he would bring it up to a full mix. I found it fascinating to hear John Lydon's vocal tracks sans instrumentation, or Steve Jones' guitar without the backbeat and vocals. In addition to the hour-long documentary, there's nearly another hour of bonus materials featuring live performances from back-in-the-day, additional interview footage, and one really nice segment where Steve Jones sits on an amp with his Gibson and runs through all the basic riffs and leads to a large chunk of the Pistols' music. A must for fans of the Pistols or students of punk. Definitely worthwhile if you give the least little damn about rock music in general.

El Mariachi (1992)
Director: Robert Rodriguez

Hands-down one of the most inspirational independent films made during the boom of the early 90's, not so much for the film itself, but the fact that Rodriguez made the entire thing on a budget of $7,000. Utilizing hand-held... everything (lighting, cameras), a minimum of props/sets, and cast that doubled as his crew, Rodriguez creates a classic exploitation film from an old Mexican legend about a travelling minstrel mistaken for a crime underlord.

Desperado (1995)
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Cast: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Steve Buscemi, Cheech Marin, Quenetin Tarantino, Danny Trejo

Upon the critical and financial success of El Mariachi, Rodriguez was given a budget of $7 million for Desperado, a sequel in what was to eventually become a trilogy. True-to-form, Rodriguez envisioned making a film which could compete with summer blockbuster action movies with budgets in the $30-50 million range, and succeeded. Employing his DIY ethic and cashing-in on the reputation he'd made for himself in the form of name-talent, he made the film under budget on a 39 day shooting schedule. If you're not a fan of action/genre/exploitation films, neither of these movies will appeal to you. Similarily, if you don't like these types of movies but you're interested in the low-budget craft of film-making, the director's commentary for these two films are fascinating. These films are offered as a double-feature DVD, for purchase and rental. Next week, I plan on watching the third installment, Once Upon a Time In Mexico.

Project: Kill (1976)
Director: William Girdler
Cast: Leslie Nielson, Nancy Kwan

When I saw this movie in a bargin bin I just couldn't resist. Leslie Nielson in an early, dramatic, action movie - predating Airplane! by 4 years. As you can see in the screen-cap here, Leslie opens a can of whoop-ass in the obligatory "wharf showdown" which seemed to permeate every 70's action flick. Don't even bother worrying about a cogent or believable storyline. After heading a clandestine special forces unit for six years which utilizes mind-control drugs, Nielson goes off his meds and flees. He's being hunted by his former friend and second-in-command as well as an Asian mafia boss... and there's something to do with treasury plates I never quite understood. It's unintentionally funny throughout due to poor acting and even worse action sequences. See it if you can, but don't go out of your way.