Archive for thriller

Red State

Posted in movies with tags , , , , , on September 6, 2011 by Parker Connell

Who knew foul-mouthed, king of the slackers Kevin Smith had a movie like Red State in him?  Once known pretty much exclusively for masterful creation of dick and fart jokes Mr. Smith has come out with one of the best thrillers in recent memory.

After the cinematic turd known as Cop Out I was ready to cast Smith aside, and any hopes I had for his next film Red State were pretty much thrown out the window. Then the first trailer came out. It looked gritty and visceral, more Rob Zombie than Kevin Smith, and that creepy voice over by Michael Parks, had me interested, but then thoughts of Bruce Willis telling unfunny jokes during poorly shot and edited car chases danced in my head and I filed my curiosity away.

Well here I sit eating my words.  Red State is an expertly made thriller about religious fanatics think Fred Phelps meets Waco. Three teens are kidnapped after being tricked with the promise of sex. Abin Cooper (Michael Parks) and his flock intend on punishing the three deviants for their wicked thoughts and actions. Soon things escalate and ATF is called to the scene

The story is something that has been seen before, but not in movies very often, this sort of thing happens in the news. Where Smith surprises is in his direction. Usually Smith focuses on the writing and the direction, cinematography, and pacing are left on the back burner. In Red State we have dynamic camera work, and one or two scene that are tenser than anything I’ve seen in years. Never before has Smith had me on the edge of my seat but here I was hold my breath, can’t look away, holy shit what is going to happen, tense for long stretches of the movie.

That isn’t to say that the writing suffers. Red State features some of Smith’s best writing since Dogma (it seems religion gets the best out of him) and it seems he benefits from the almost complete lack of dick and fart jokes.

As far as acting this is really a one-man show for Michael Parks who is allowed long speeches about scripture and “the homosexual” and it’s really enthralling and disturbingly entertaining. John Goodman does well as the ATF agent in charge and Kevin Pollak has a good moment followed by a great moment. The teens are good and Kevin Smith seems to understand how actual modern 18 year olds act and talk.

Perhaps Red State is a fluke, or a momentary rest from his standard output, either way I feel safe in saying that aside from Clerks, Red State will be the one Kevin Smith is remembered for in the long term. Short term it’s a great movie.


White Sands: Unexpected Feature

Posted in movies with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 19, 2010 by Parker Connell

I went into the video store intending to return JFK (review upcoming) and BeetleJuice (review not upcoming) and renting Spanking the Monkey and The Usual Suspects (which I did). While wandering through the catalogue section I saw a face that looked familiar, that of Willem Dafoe and ran over to the DVD. I looked at the young Dafoe of 1992 and laughed at the thought of renting it, then I saw the other face on the case that of Mickey Rourke, who has long been one of my favorite actors, shit had just become real, I had to rent this flick without knowing anything more about it.

So three movies in hand I got into my friend’s car and began reading the back of the case for White Sands, it sounded pretty mediocre the directors name was unfamiliar both me and my friend, but two of the actors made it worth watching, WAIT! Three of them, because as i discovered Samuel L. Jackson was in this flick. I had to watch it. NOW. Or at least after i got some cheeseburgers.

Okay so White Sands is from the early 90’s era of thrillers that had to be sexy and it’s directed by the guy who did Species (sexy sci fi thriller) and No Way Out (sexy Navy thriller) and would go on to direct The Bank Job (sexy British heist thriller) and The Worlds Fastest Indian (not really sexy or thrilling unless you are REALLY into Tony Hops, but still pretty good), for the most part this guy loves sexy thrillers. White Sands isn’t as sexy as No Way OUt or Species but it still has a sex scene with Willem Dafoe, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio from The Abyss, and a shower, for like 30 seconds it’s the sexyist movie ever made.

Imagine this but shirtless and wet.

In terms of the story it’s pretty unremarkable Dafoe is a small town Deputy Sheriff who finds a dead guy with a bunch of money in the desert, turns out that guy is involved with the FBI and his superior is Sam Jackson, who has spent years trying to arrest an arms dealer with the improbably name of Gorman Lennox played by still handsome Mickey Rourke. Dafoe pretends to be the dead FBI guy to get the Fed’s money back from Lennox with the help of the Abyss chick who is like a money launderer or horse trainer or both or neither, I don’t know… she wasn’t very interesting but she got naked and had sex with Willem Dafoe so maybe I missed something.

If this guy likes her she can't be all bad.

White Sands has some twists and turns along the way that I won’t ruin for you, not because I think you’ll see this movie but because I have nothing funny to say about the twisty bits. Suffice it to say that the twists come and they are not at “90’s thriller” as you’d expect.

I do want to talk about Sam Jackson. Mainly I’d like to talk about my theory of Sameul L. Jackson and Three. You see as far as I can tell Jackson has three vague epochs in his career. Epoch One” Yelly crackhead. Epoch Two: Not Yelly Businessman, and Epoch Three: Yelly Businessman. White Sands falls decidedly into Epoch Two along with Jurassic Park and Hard Eight, where he is reserved yet still menacing. Nowadays he just yells a lot and is still pretty menacing but because of this people forget that he can actually do a good job of non-yelly acting.

Although Pulp Fiction wouldn't be as good if he wasn't yelly

Mickey Rourke is really good in this, and there are a couple of scenes with him and Dafoe that kick ass, and it’s just the two of them talking. So that’s cool. Rourke isn’t really show offy at all, you know why? because he’s never show offy, name one movie where Mickey Rourke is anything but subtle, and Van Damme movies don’t count, because they aren’t movies they are fucking experiences. He was subtle in that movie where Tupac looks like Slick Rick while dealing drugs, I know it’s an unpopular thing to say but Mickey Rourke has talent.

This movie is crazy/good

HOnestly I couldn’t really care less about this movie if it weren’t for the cast. So if you like the sound of a sexy FBI thriller with Samuel L. Jackson, Willem Dafoe, and Mickey Rourke, then check it out I guess. I mean you might be disappointed, but I wasn’t.