Saturday, 12 November 2016

Take Your Political Correctness Elsewhere


Many months have passed since I watched 'The Hateful 8' at the cinema, and got to bask in all it's violent glory. It's a film I had been looking forward to when I heard about it's script being leaked. I never bothered reading the script, instead I wanted to remain surprised, and I am so glad I held out from taking a sneak peak of what was to come. I saw 'The Hateful 8' with my four best friends and my partner, who are all open minded when it comes to film, and will usually give most things ago no matter how awful they are. These people were the best kind of people to watch 'The Hateful 8' with, because I knew once the film was over, the discussion would be full of praise, happiness, and our nostalgic buttons would be pressed. Is it bad when that button is pressed? Hell no. I know you elitist film snobs out there don't like to let yourself enjoy films which pander to your childhood or a period in your life where you were more impressionable. It seems we cannot like a film just because it pays homage to a genre or style of film, as well as being fun, which for people can be extremely engaging. It's becoming increasingly aware that we have to like films that have a message, as well as appeal to subcultures that were once ostracised. We are meant to be equals when it comes to film, we are meant to make sure that our films are politically correct with the right amount of diversity. This is how we are meant to engage with our audiences now as we are apparently more 'socially aware'. Well I call bullshit on that.

After watching 'The Hateful 8', I decided to peruse the message boards on IMDB as well as reading articles and essays on the film; opinions were very divided. 'The Hateful 8' is a film with no middle ground, you either loved it for it's creativity to incorporate themes from the film The Thing and melt that with the Exploitation and Spaghetti Western genres, or you hated it for it's lack of strong female lead, over-the-top violence and time length. I read an article on the film which stated how women didn't like the way Jennifer Jason Leigh's character was constantly battered around, whether it was an elbow to the face or her graphic demise. Firstly let's get this straight, her character was in a gang, she murdered people, she was caught, she had a freakin' bounty on her head which is explained pretty early on in the film, so why the problem? Is it because she's a woman? Would you have the same reaction if it was a white man? No you wouldn't.

The more threads and articles that I read on 'The Hateful 8', the more I was aware that people are really trying to 'police' what we can and can't watch by deeming what is socially acceptable, and what isn't. I am not saying important real life issues should not be brought to us through film. I thought 'Spotlight' was a magnificent film which brought forward an issue that NEEDED to be addressed. Yes we do need films like 'Spotlight', but what ever happened to us being in a fantasy. Why can't we just go to the cinema and watch a film because we like the genre or a specific actor that is appearing in the film? Why does it always have to be about a social justice theme? Why is everything so political, and why are film fans like myself forced to feel bad for not wanting to continuously bask in depression on-screen? I suffer from depression and anxiety and have done so for many years. I don't watch or read the news, you may think I am uneducated but to be honest I am depressed as it is already without having constant updates on why the human race is so shitty.

I love exploitation films which push the envelope and hold up a mirror to society and show everyone for what they really are in a grotesque and vile manner; I will never deny that. However I am deemed someone with a low standard of film taste because I love films like 'I Spit on Your Grave', which has just as much an important message to give as 'The Accused' - another film depicting the effects of gang rape. But why is one film deemed a respectable piece of cinema with stunning and real portrayals that are worthy of Academy Awards, and the other depicted as dirt not worthy of a proper cinematic release? Why the double standards? Oh you want diversity, you want to tackle 'tough' issues Hollywood, just as long as you get to pick and choose right?

Violence in films is an issue that is brought up a lot on the IMDB message boards, Twitter and Facebook. I cannot count the amount of articles I have read where people are disgusted with violence, depravity or anything with a tiny whiff of a film being gratuitous. I understand that violence is not everyone's cup of tea, that I have no problem with. But when I see the same kind of people that post those articles and shrieking "WON'T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN" and then posting comments about how much they 'adored' the pretentious arthouse violence that we see in films like 'Salo' and 'Neon Demon', it makes me realise just how many hypocrites there are.

The Great Depression was a time when people needed that fantasy of a film. People would save every dollar they could to actually go to the cinema, and forget what real life bestowed upon them for a couple of hours. We are living in a time now where we are dealing with religious bigots, over-saturation of political rallies, high-school shootings, terrorists, global warming, third-wave feminism, Catholic church abuse cover-ups. And the last thing I want to see on screen is the exact same tripe which is blasted all over the news or social media.

Monday, 29 February 2016

Jawsome's Movie Poster Love Den


Everything about this poster just says "THIS IS WHAT WAS SO GREAT ABOUT THE '80S". Don't agree? Well kiss my ass, because I love the shit out of this film and the poster just illustrates just how epic 'Masters of the Universe' was. It may have had a limited budget, and certain aspects may look tacky, but in a way this film has achieved cult status; well in my mind it has. Something that has always stuck with me is the way Dolph Lundgren is sculpted in this poster. And there's just something about the colour of his skin and how he looks all sweaty...what can I say even as a little girl it was a bit of a turn on for me. Either way I think this is a great representation of He-Man, even if they didn't have all the resources to make it something less cheesy. Embrace this shit people!!

Sunday, 24 January 2016

My Top 500 - The Process

I am a huge fan of lists. It doesn't have to be anything in particular, I just love making lists. But the ultimate list for me is a movie list containing all of my most loved films. The kind of films that I can quote line for line. The kind of films I have fond memories when watching them with important people in my life. The kind of films which exposed me to sub-genres I knew nothing about. I love film history, and I always have loved reading about peoples perspectives on film. Which is why I have bought many books on films, especially those books called '1001 Films You Must See Before You Die'. And while I was able to find films in this book that I had never heard of before, overall it was a bit of a let down. So many of the films included in the book were of the same things I had read in previous film lists. I have briefly spoken before about peoples top 10, top 100 etc, and I have more often than not, found the same recycled lists over and over. I can't count how many times I have seen 'The Shawshank Redemption', 'Citizen Kane', 'The Dark Knight' and 'Godfather Part II' top peoples lists. And while these are critically acclaimed films, and in the eyes of a lot of people they are flawless in a technical aspect. But are these the films you can sit down  and watch over and over again? Are these the films you can quote line for line? Are these the films that you know every intricate detail because you have watched them so many times to the point you have multiple copies sitting on your shelf? There is nothing wrong with having these films topping your list, but are these the films you genuinely love, or are these the films that you put on your list because everyone else does, and you feel you will be judged for putting something on the top of your list because it's B-Grade. 

Everyone has different taste in film, and no one can be exactly the same. But I have a hard time believing that everyone thinks exactly the same on these films. Sure the internet is full of opinionated people, but when I see the same lists on many different sites, on personal blogs as well as social network platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter; I just don't buy it. Yes, we can like a lot of the same films. But I am a firm believer you can tell a lot about a person's personality, by the films that they genuinely love. And I just feel that not a lot of people are not honest because of fear of scrutiny by the peers, as well as keyboard warriors. When I have had heated discussions with people on film, I will always give reasons as to why I am not a fan of a particular film, however when I ask what their reasons are for loving a film so much, I am often met with defensive and aggressive behaviour rather than actual reasons for loving something. If you love or hate something, the reasons usually are pretty clear cut and should be obvious to you, and should come naturally when discussing. 

A few months ago, a regular customer who I now consider a friend, would often come in and discuss movies with my partner and myself. One night we decided to write our top 50. When he read out his list, I wasn't surprised by his choices. Partially because I had heard him speak numerous times about them and also because I know what kind of personality he has, and his film taste coincides with that. When he explained some of his choices, I believed him. Sure at times he struggles in finding the right words to explain it however the emotion and passion for his choices are extremely visible. Since writing our top 50, I have thought often about writing a huge list of all of the films that I PERSONALLY hold in high regard. When I write a movie list, these are the films I truly love without caring about what others think. I have no shame with saying 'Deep Blue Sea' would be in my top 100. When telling my closest friends about writing my top 100 in an article on my blog page, it was suggested I do a top 500. And that is what I am going to do. Sure it may take a little time to choose in numerical order, but that's all in the fun of it. I can say without a doubt, what you will see
 in my list are films that I love. There will be no pretentious choices, so sorry Wes Anderson you are not included. that goes for you too Lars Von Trier. My list isn't about impressing people, my list is about the films that I love and how they have shaped my passion. Watching films for me are an experience, it's about creating memories, it's not about being privileged enough to see a technically 'perfect' film, with acting that just resonates with the colour grey. 

Here are a couple of questions that I pose to anyone who reads this article. If you decided to write your top films of all time, would it be for your own self satisfaction, knowing that you are a magnificent bastard for loving the films you do? Or are you writing what you think internet trolls, so-called friends and unpaid film 'critics' will approve of? 

Thursday, 14 January 2016

First Blood

Before mass hysteria within the pop culture realm decided it was a great idea to make fun at Sylvester Stallone's expense, he was a respected actor, and as an audience we saw torture within his eyes and his trembling voice. In 'Rocky' we saw an underdog fighting for his one shot to prove he was strong enough emotionally and physically to go the distance with Apollo Creed. The world saw Stallone as a man with depth, character and integrity. And it's those gifts that he portrayed in the tortured soul of John Rambo in 1982's 'First Blood'. While the 3 sequels of the original 'First Blood' are very violent and very much action films, 'First Blood' will forever be a drama with elements of thriller and action. John Rambo is a young man who has been through so much in such a short amount of time, and has had to do a lot of growing up because of the horrors that he has seen in Vietnam. This is truly a sad story of a man who is just misunderstood, a man who is unfairly treated by narrow minded simpletons.

Here is the run down. John Rambo who is trying to track down his friend from the Vietnam War only to discover he died of Cancer. Clearly devastated he walks into the local town and gets picked up by Sheriff Teasle who warns him that people like him don't belong in his quiet, boring town, so he drives him out of town and leaves him there, yet Rambo just immediately walks back in the direction he just came. Infuriated, Teasle then arrests him. Once at the police station it is pretty damn evident, that these depraved cops have nothing better to do than humiliate, and degrade Rambo which is giving him flashbacks of what he went through in Vietnam. And then finally Rambo snaps, kicking the absolute shit out of the cops in sight and escaping the station and stealing some random guy's motorbike with pure style. Rambo then lures Sheriff Teasle and his cop squad into the forest and then the real hunt begins. 

Sylvester Stallone is just perfection as John Rambo. No one could breath life into this character. He is so raw, gritty, broken, and all he wants is some peace in his life. He endured hell on earth while serving in Vietnam, and it's those hellish experiences which have stayed buried deep within his psyche and boiled over into his whole being. The character of John Rambo doesn't talk much for majority of the film, he doesn't need to. Those sad eyes tell a tale of pure sadness and horror, what he has seen, he can never unseen, those horrors don't just live in his nightmares when he sleeps, they are there with him every day, never leaving his mind; all it takes is a trigger. You can see that Stallone definitely can understand the character of John Rambo, and what he is really about. Stallone is definitely one of the most underrated actors out there. He has the ability to make the viewer experience a roller-coaster of emotions, he wants you to live and breathe the character with him, and that explains why I am always a blubbering like a baby whenever I watch 'First Blood'. It physically hurts my chest when I see him reliving all the awful experiences over and over again, 'First Blood' is just way more than any other action movie.


Brian Dennehy portrays the arrogant, narrow minded Sheriff Teasle, who would rather hunt, and kill a Vietnam war Hero than admitting he was wrong in the first place for even approaching him in the beginning and assuming John Rambo was up to no good. You can't help but love Brian Dennehy because you just love to hate Teasle. He is such a scumbag who abuses his power, and no one has ever kicked him off his self appointed pedestal until now. Dennehy was really on the money with this portrayal and he just makes you despise his character regardless of any emotional journey he may go through during the film. If all you want to do is slice his throat open with Rambo's knife whenever you see Teasle on screen, I think he did his job.

Jerry Goldsmith did a magnificent job of producing the musical score for 'First Blood'. The opening music just sets the tone for the film, it conveys the sorrow and bad memories that lie within John Rambo and how how they continue to affect his life on a daily basis. The musical score spoke volumes, and really added raw emotion to the film. Jerry Goldsmith composed a perfect musical score which also proves he was also in tune with the character of John Rambo. Goldsmith brought out Rambo's hell, his experiences, his flashbacks out through the music, and I believe that was a lot of the glue that held the film together.


My favourite scene would have to be the ending, it is just pure honesty and tragedy; a fallen hero struggling to come to terms with what his life is after his hellish ordeal. It is the first time throughout the film, where we learn how he really feels, what he thinks and what stays in his mind. The things people have put him through during and after the Vietnam war have shaped him, and therefore he is having trouble adjusting to normal life. He feels he is still stuck in the war, people will not let him forget what they thought that war was about, and instead of been treated a hero who endured so much pain for his country, he was cast aside, spit on, and banished by society. John Rambo lost his friends to a war which didn't need to happen, and he feels he is going to be paying for it for the rest of his life. When he breaks down crying and falls to the floor, it is incredibly hard to watch, because you feel the pain, you feel like your heart is going to burst out of your chest, it just hurts. It is heartbreaking to see a man so broken up inside, he doesn't know who he is, what his purpose is, so when he does break down you can see that is years of bottled up suppression of frustration, sorrow and anger. John Rambo is just a man, and all he wanted when he walked into that town was something to eat, and they took away a basic right of any human being away from him, just because of the assumption made about what kind of person he was. 

'First Blood' is a tragic story of a man trying to get a grip on reality with close minded people standing in his way. Sylvester Stallone is an absolute treat to watch in this, and his portrayal of John Rambo is timeless, and it is this role which will go down as one of cinema's most iconic roles of all times. If you haven't seen 'First Blood', you have been living under a rock, so you need to finish reading this review, grab several Cherry Coke's and you need to buy this film and watch it ASAP. I have found 'First Blood' to be one of those kind of films that I need to watch to have a good cry, now I know majority of women would do that with trash like 'The Notebook', but since I have more male chromosomes than most women, I think it's perfectly acceptable. Now forget what the haters of action films say about Stallone and his portrayal of Rambo, because all they see are the muscles and the explosions. But since the readers of my articles are intelligent life forms you should watch 'First Blood' for the brutality, the depth, the horror and the dark beauty surrounding John Rambo.

Congratulations Sylvester Stallone


Congratulations to Sylvester Stallone on his win for Best Supporting Actor at the 2016 Golden Globes. I have to say it was definitely well deserved. Despite the flack he had been getting over the years, as well as one of the most nominated actors when it came to the Razzie Awards, it is about time, he is recognised for the talent that he possesses. As a lifelong fan of Stallone and all his work, I am just ecstatic that people are being awoken to his talent that die-hard fans have been believing in for such a long time. 'Creed' was at the top of my list for my top 10 films of 2015, and for good reason. After all these years Stallone can still put on that fedora, and walk the streets of Philadelphia and become that underdog that was given that one shot to prove what he is made of. Stallone has proved time and time again, that he is worthy of recognition, not just with his acting, but his directing, writing and of course his painting. And congratulations must be given again to Stallone, as he has been nominated for an Academy Award. It doesn't matter if he doesn't win, because in my eyes he has already won. 

Monday, 11 January 2016

Action Movies: The Evolution Through My Eyes - The Glory Years

As promised, here is the second part to my first article 'Action Movies: The Evolution through my eyes'. And you know what I will be focusing on; the '80's. The freakin' glory years of action. The '80s had the best teen flicks, the best slashers and of course the best action movies. The mood is set, I have my fire up song playlist pumping, I have 'Rambo II' playing softly in the background and I am not wearing pants, so get comfy action fans, and let's explore the best decade of the action genre!

So this is the '80s huh? Flashy cars, chick's in leopard print, and a sea of men in Golds Gym singlets; what a time to be alive! So here we are, we have stepped out of the '70s and while there are some remnants of what once was, we are now riding a huge wave which is going to revolutionise the way action films are made. The '70s was an overall gritty decade for film, we saw the action genre spawn it's own sub genres in all corners of the globe, and actors like Clint Eastwood, Franco Nero, Steve Mcqueen, Gene Hackman and Charles Bronson were at the peaks of their career. But a new team of stars were going to join the ranks, and they were about to set the benchmark which has not been topped since. 

The early '80s started off with a bang with 'The Empire Strikes Back' and 'Superman II'.  I think that these two films right there symbolised that the '80s were going to be more than just 'big'. It was going to be monumental, gargantuan and monstrous. The hair, the muscles, the explosions, the soundtracks, the film budget; everything was going to be epic. Everything in the '80s seemed to be on a much grander scale, with so much excess - maybe we can blame cocaine on that one? Either way 1981 rolled on by and so did one of the most bad-ass action movies; 'Escape from New York'. It's star, Kurt Russell had quite a lengthy TV career starting as a child, but it was 'Escape from New York', which really made film executives, critics and audiences alike to take notice. And since then he has not only appeared in action films, but he has been in thrillers, kids films and drama's; I guess you could say this man is pretty well rounded. 1981 also changed the way action/adventure films would be portrayed with Steven Spielberg's classic 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'. Audiences were already familiar with it's leading man, Harrison Ford; but this was his franchise alone. Spielberg's sets were so distinctive and remarkable, that it conveyed to audiences that you can make an action film anywhere, just give the audience some suspense, and make the impossible possible.


To the guys who know me, you know what is coming next. 1982 was a very eclectic year, because the remnants from the '70s were still hanging around, so if you incorporate the grittiness of the '70s with the '80s excess you get films like '1990: Bronx Warriors' and 'The New Barbarians'. While these films are entertaining and brutal in their own way, there is one film which brought real life brutality, and held up a mirror in front of society to show just how easy traumatic events are forgotten because of decadence and ignorance, and that was 'First Blood'. Sylvester Stallone was already making a huge mark in Hollywood with the 'Rocky' franchise but 'First Blood' was the real starting point on when action movies were going to change. Of course this first installment is more of a drama/thriller in comparison to it's sequels, but this is the film that started it all. In 1984 'The Terminator' was released and just like 'First Blood', it had more of a thriller vibe to it than the streamlined action film that we know today. It's the sequels to these two films which are non-stop action with muscles, and explosions and bullets firing off everywhere. 'First Blood' and 'The Terminator' are the cores of each of the franchises, these are the origin stories, this is where a lot of the character development is done. The sequels are just as great as the originals, but it's the sequels which scream out "Who the fuck we gotta kill to save the world"; it's really that simple. 'First Blood' was critically acclaimed, but it's sequels is where people have 'issues' believing that what he does is possible, so here's my argument to that. It's a freakin' movie! Oh and before I forget, these are also fictional films,  like James Bond, but I don't see the 'Bond' franchise get as much grief. 'Saving Private Ryan', an amazing film, but very violent, but why doesn't anyone chastise this film? Oh wait because it's based on a true story, my mistake. It seems you can only have 'based on true story' epic's that are allowed to show brutal depictions of violence. 

As we moved forward through to 1984, a sub-genre of action would be defined as the 'buddy cop' movie, with 'Beverly Hills Cop'. It's star Eddie Murphy had already been steadily making a name for himself through his stand-ups, SNL sketches and of course his roles in '48 hours' and 'Trading Places'. Murphy was already a hilarious actor with a superb talent when it came to accents, impersonations of celebrities, all the while maintaining this cool-as-a-motherfucker attitude. While 'Beverly Hills Cop' possessed great humour from Axel, Rosewood and Taggart, you never forgot about the action. Was the film violent? Sure, however never to the extent of the CGI violence that action fans have come to know and love today. The success of the film not only brought critical acclaim but it also received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay; and from then on two sequels were spawned. Were the sequels as good? Personally I prefer 'Beverly Hills Cop II'; what can I say I am a sucker for the soundtrack and how slick it looks. As for the third film, it was still enjoyable, but definitely a more lighter film than the previous installments. 



If you dig the '80s and all it's cheesy action glory, then 1985 was a great year for the Cannon Group. Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus were the guys you went to if you wanted to churn out films fast, on limited budget, with crappy Special Fx and even worse working conditions. Granted they were not the most respected, but you have to appreciate what these guys did. These guys loved movies, they were not like every movie executive who's only passion is lining their own pockets. And while they had a few successes, it was 1985 that brought some damn fine films. Let's start off with Michael Dudikoff's most memorable role, 'American Ninja'. I just know for a fact that this film was at every young boys' birthday party.  But even though ninja films suddenly seemed cool again, the  '70s were still reluctantly hanging around with 'Death Wish 3'. Okay sure it wasn't as great as the original, and it wasn't as brutal as the second, but it had some quality about it; I think you can call it trash, but good trash. I like trash, and it was just one big montage of enjoyable trash. Then we have the Cannon poster boy Chuck Norris starring in 'Missing In Action 2' and my personal favourite 'Invasion U.S.A.'. If you want explosions and cars crashing into things and everybody being trigger happy 'Invasion U.S.A.' is the film you need in your life. But the best of 1985 for Cannon had to go to 'Runaway Train' - Sure it's not a shoot-em-up kind of action film, but it's direct, dramatic, and definitely has some of the most intense action scenes set on a train I have ever witnessed. Also Jon Voight and Eric Roberts give stellar performances, and it makes me wonder why is this film along with these actors so underrated? 

In 1986 you had such eclectic releases which had so many different flavours and influences that it really was a genre for everyone. Sci-Fi was really pushing through the horror genre, but adding an action twist to it you get results like 'Aliens'; now THAT was revolutionary. I love the original 'Alien' film and I respect it for it's intensity and the way it slowly creeps under your skin until the point you cannot look away, even though you know the result may frighten you. But 'Aliens' was that cooler, slicker older brother you wish you could be; it just didn't give a fuck. It had Sci-Fi, action and horror all rolled into this great story with characters you could identify with, no matter how much they pissed you off. This was action that everyone had dreamt of, that everyone had craved, but they couldn't put the exact words down to what they wanted; but that's okay because James Cameron knew what everyone wanted. 

While films that also came out that year may not have been as popular as 'Aliens' they all made their mark, and became popular and well loved with the hardcore fans. Films like 'Cobra', 'A Better Tomorrow', 'The Golden Child', 'Big Trouble in Little China', 'Delta Force', 'Raw Deal' and 'No Retreat, No Surrender' all became great additions to the action movie cannon. They all brought something new and fresh to the table as well as keeping the core of what makes action great. 


Some may say that after 1986 the action genre just got sillier, cheesier and overall lame. And there may be some truth to that, however to hardcore action fans like myself, the genre was really starting to cook. Sequels were spawning faster than the flying piranhas from 'Piranha 2', muscles were getting bigger, and the stars from the '70s were gracefully backing away and letting actors like Stallone, Russell and Schwarzenegger take the lead. But while these guys were leading the pack you had actors and martial artists making a name for themselves and proving you don't have to be Rambo to blow shit up. Chow Yun-Fat, Jackie Chan, Dolph Lundgren, Peter Weller, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Cynthia Rothrock, Billy Blanks and Roddy Piper were among the actors and martial artists who had not only perfected their craft, but also kept pushing themselves, taking notes from the biggest stars but all the while remaining true to themselves. 

After 1985, I feel that the action genre became less streamlined and was branching out into new directions that had not been previously explored, and because it was the '80s anything seemed possible. This was a decade that was so experimental and so accepting of ideas, concepts and of course it's stars. They knew there was money to be made, and they made it, ten fold. VHS was also becoming more popular as the prices for a VCR dropped and visits to the video store became more frequent. It's the sale of VHS in the '80s that really helped the popularity of action and horror films, and it explains why so many of the die-hard fans are going to the ends of the earth to try and find those uncut editions that were only available on VHS. 

The second half of the '80s shone a light on the more unknown actors, and because VHS flood the market, more films were being able to be made, and that's where a lot of these stars shined. It didn't matter that the films were going straight to video, because no matter how B-grade some of the films were, people were willing to watch anything, and that is how you find those gems. I rummaged through a bargain bin and that's how I found 'King of the Kickboxers'; that film changed my life, no joke. There is nothing wrong with being more famous on VHS than on that huge silver screen, you know why? Hardcore fans will search high and low for an entire back catalogue on many actors no matter how crappy the film is. These action stars from the '80s obviously showed audiences they possess something unique and wonderful, they appealed to a group of people who loved to be excited whenever they sat in a movie theatre or in the comfort of their own home. True fans will always have memories of watching certain films, and they will do whatever it takes to recapture that moment they first saw their favourite action film. I hope these actors know that we appreciate them and the work they did. They may have only been in one film, or fifty films, either way they have made an impact. This action revolution on VHS is so important, because without it we wouldn't have these stars, we wouldn't have incredible martial arts to cover up a really funny storyline. And most of all we wouldn't have such kickass memories from when we were kids, or even memories that we have chosen to make with like-minded people. 

Stay tuned for Part III where I discuss the end of the '80s for the action era, and if it will ever be recaptured.