by Louis Fowler
Most weeks, I review more DVDs than the Indy can fit into print. You can look for extra write-ups here on the IndyBlog.
Brad Anderson is a pretty fantastic director, making small thrillers that people tend to see after the fact, movies like Session 9, The Machinist and Transsiberian. Vanishing on 7th Street is his latest under-the-radar work, but, sadly, it’s a bit of a letdown, and I can’t quite put my finger on why. It’s a great premise: In Detroit, a Rapture-like event happens, leaving nothing but piles of clothes on the ground. A few survivors gather together, including Hayden Christensen (who still can’t take the hint that no one wants to watch him act wooden on screen), Thandie Newton and John Leguizamo doing the manic thing he does so well. The entity behind the disappearances seems to be the darkness itself, with long shadows engulfing and taking people away. To where or why? We are never told, and it’s quite infuriating. It’s like the makers just had no idea how to end Vanishing, making me feel like I totally wasted my time. I really wish it hadn't.
1961. Before the Beatles hit America, before hippies destroyed America, before the downfall of societal masculinity in America in general. A time when grown-ass men were kings of the silver screen, telling adult stories about doing adult things, regardless of the consequences. The Hustler is a movie like that. Paul Newman is pool-shark Fast Eddie Felson, an arrogant dick whose ambition in the billiards rooms eventually leads to his downfall. In between games, he hangs out in bus-stations, where he eventually falls in love with an outspoken lush named Sarah (Piper Laurie). Of course it ends in utter bitter tragedy. But Eddie doesn’t cry. Instead, he challenges legendary pool king Minnesota Fats (a stellar Jackie Gleason, owning the screen every minutes he’s on it) in a game for respect and ego. Fox’s hard-bound Blu-Ray special edition is a sight to behold, filled with almost too many special features. I’m still trying to work my way through them.
As I was watching the John Wayne classic The Comancheros, I was eating an insanely thick-cut steak, with a side of steak fries and Mexican Coke. As Wayne and his various Texas Ranger pals shot up violent gunrunners, I took a look at the American flag hanging on the wall of my office and I thought, “This is what it’s all about.” That’s truly the only way to watch a John Wayne movie, especially now that 20th Century Fox has issued The Comancheros as part of its deluxe, hard-bound series of Blu-Ray classics. Wayne is in great form as a top-notch Ranger who teams with a New Orleans pretty-boy gambler in a bid to take down a gang of bloodthirsty arms-dealers supplying guns to the Comanches in an effort to incite frontier violence. A thrilling western adventure that works best with as much heart-clogging cholesterol as possible!