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Monthly Archives: December 2015

You know we here at JPFmovies typically don’t have a lot of respect for most redux. In fact we often trash them. So I asked Dr. H to take a look at Point Break (2015) so we can compare and contrast it with the original 1991 film starring the deceased Patrick Swaze.

As you know we here at JPFmovies are pretty tough on re-makes.  So when I heard there was a re-make of the 1991 film Point Break—a classic despite Mr. K Reeves—we sent Dr. H into the field to assess the damage.  Here are his thoughts.

The best analogy is that he was approached by a smooth car salesman selling him a huge truck that he doesn’t need; it had a fine interior but gets horrible mileage and after the initial infatuation wore off he realized just how bad a deal it was.  When it is all said and done, the V-8 is too much and you’ll never use that much trunk space.

Coming back to Point Break Redux, the stunts are nonsensical even if you allow the customary suspension of disbelief.  Like crashing through glass windows on motorcycles with parachutes to ride away into the sunset.  Only going to further prove that we believe Hollywood has been reduced to making a number of action scenes and merely stringing them together with some insipid dialogue.

Now to the original 1991 classic.  The direction was so good that Mr. Reeves could not do too much damage with his expressionless face and robotic voice.  The word on the street is that when they were teaching actors how to use tone and pitch to augment a delivery line he was in the bathroom.  That said, excellent performances by Patrick Swaze and Gary Busey and the great portrayal of the beaches and natural lighting give the film an excellent look and feel.  Moreover, the actions scenes appear plausible when compared to the motorcycles flying through the glass windows parachuting to the earth making their getaway.

That brings us to an interesting question.  Why are they trying to milk these great old films like Grease, Point Break and National Lampoons Vacation (previously reviewed)?  Because the writers have run out of ideas.  The studios need to invest too heavily in the stars and special effects that there is nothing left for the most important part: the story.  That is why we here at JPFmovies believe that all the good stories are coming out of Asia and Europe—they have not fallen into the seductive trap of taking the easy way out by making a few action scenes and then trying to fill in the space with whatever dialogue they can come up with at a bargain basement price.

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2015 in Movie Reviews

 

Southern Comfort—No not the booze, the 1981 film starring Keith Carradine and a young Powers Booth as well as the guy who played Remo Williams in the 1985 movie “Remo Williams the Adventure Begins.”

Don’t piss off Cajuns—that is the moral of this movie.  The movie was always somewhere rolling around in my head and then my friend TV brought it up (I believe he was trying to stump me with no luck for him).  Of course I remembered the film because of some very gritty scenes one or two of which will appear in the vaunted JPFmovie clips.

Southern Comfort is a movie about a Louisiana National Guard unit (or weekend warriors) out on some mock combat exercise.  Part of the mock combat is that all they have are blanks which proves to be the beginning of the end for most of the unit.  As the soldiers begin the 40 something kilometer march, they come to a river that is not marked on their map.  They realize that the recent rains probably have shifted the swamp water causing a pretty formidable river crossing.  Oh did I forget to mention that 90% of this film is the unit making their way through the bayou swamp land?  Well anyways as these soldiers are trying to figure out a way to cross the river, they stumble upon an empty camp of Cajun men where they find several canoes as well as some skinned animals.

 

Instead of leaving the boats there, as dictated by military law, they decide to use them to cross the river and leave them a note presumably explaining the situation.  While crossing the river, the Cajuns return and are looking at these guys stealing their boats.  One of the idiot soldiers decides (as a joke) to open fire on these men with his machine gun using blanks.  Naturally the Cajuns dive for cover since they have no clue that these are only blanks and this is all just a bad joke.  Once the machine gun stops firing, the Cajuns fire on the soldiers using live ammunition killing the units’ ranking officer.

 

The rest of the film involves the soldiers trying to make it back to civilization without getting killed by these Cajuns who know the terrain and area like the back of their hands.  In the end, only Booth and Carradine make it to a form of civilization—a Cajun cookout/party.  They remain on their guard as they (correctly) suspect that their hunters will show up and finish them off.  Well when their enemies arrive one shoots Booth but the wound is not fatal.  As the two survivors flee from the Cajun camp, an Army truck and helicopter arrive to save them from these vengeful Cajun men.

If I did not find this film interesting, I certainly would not have remembered it.  Cajuns chasing you throughout the Louisiana bayou swap is actually kind of frightening—not like Jaws scary but scary enough.  They do come across some very dangerous traps and there are a lot of skinned animals.  So I would recommend it, I mean why not—it’s not the greatest film ever made but it sure as hell is not the worst movie in the world.  Also film has some great Cajun music in it that, according to my research, is played by a famous Cajun musician Dewey Balfa.

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2015 in Movie Reviews

 

What was I thinking not reviewing this film until now? Akira Kurosawa ‘s Seven Samurai (1954). You’ve got to watch it seven times to really appreciate it.

Seven Samurai (七人の侍 Shichinin no Samurai?) is a 1954 Japanese Jidaigeki adventure film co-written, edited, and directed by “The Emperor” Akira Kurosawa.  This is also one of the most copied films in cinema history.  Films like The Magnificent Seven, Zhong yi qun ying (the seven warriors) and Samurai 7 (the anime television series) are all based on this movie.  Clearly this movie has had a major impact on movie makers since it release.  Perhaps Kurosawa’s Hidden Fortress is the only film remade more than the Seven Samurai.

The story takes place in 1586 during the Warring States Period of Japan. It follows the story of a village of farmers that hire seven ronin (masterless samurai) to combat bandits who will return after the harvest to steal their crops.  These ronin work only for food, though at the end of the movie, the “miserly” farmers do offer their protectors jewelry and other valuable items before the final conflict.

 

Marauding bandits approach a rural mountain village, but their chief decides to spare it until after the harvest because they had raided it before.  The plan is overheard by a farmer who tells the rest of village.  Lamenting their fate, three farmers ask Gisaku, the village elder and miller, for advice.  He declares they should hire samurai to defend the village.  Since they have no money to offer, Gisaku tells them to find hungry samurai saying in one of my favorite quotes “even a bear will come down from the mountain if it’s hungry enough.”

 

After little success in finding any recruits, the group witness Kambei, an aging but experienced rōnin, rescue a young boy who had been taken hostage by a thief. A young inexperienced samurai named Katsushirō also approaches Kambei to become his disciple. The villagers then ask for his help, and after initial reluctance, Kambei agrees. In turn the aged rōnin recruits some old friends as well as three other samurai: the friendly and strategic Gorobei; the good-willed Heihachi; and Kyūzō, a taciturn master swordsman whom Katsushirō regards with awe (and is apparently based on the legendary Miyamoto Musashi).  Although inexperienced, Katsushirō is taken as a sixth recruit because time is short. Kikuchiyo (Torisho Mifune), a man who carries a family scroll that he claims makes him a samurai, follows the group to the village despite attempts to drive him away.

On arrival the samurai find the villagers cowering in their homes refusing to greet them. Feeling insulted by such a cold reception, Kikuchiyo rings the village alarm bell prompting the frightened villagers to come out of hiding.  However the six samurai are angered when Kikuchiyo brings samurai armor and weapons; equipment that the villagers had most likely acquired from killing other injured or dying samurai.  But Kikuchiyo explodes and points out that samurai are responsible for battles, raids, taxation and forced labor that devastate the lives of villagers thereby revealing his origins as a farmer.

 

When the bandits attack the village they are confounded by village’s new fortifications, including a moat and wooden fence. During a torrential downpour, the villagers are ordered to let in all remaining bandits where they are killed but not before taking some villagers and samurai with them.  With the fighting over, Kambei and Shichirōji observe that they have survived once again.  In a moving epilogue, the three surviving samurai watch as the joyful villagers sing while planting their crops. Kambei—standing beneath the funeral mounds of his four dead comrades—reflects that it’s another pyrrhic victory for the samurai. While they gained nothing for their sacrifice, the farmers’ reward is their lands.

 

Some interesting facts about the film include Kurosawa refusing to shoot the peasant village at Toho Studios, instead having a complete set constructed at Tagata on the Izu Peninsula, Shizuoka.  Acts like this eventually lead to Kurosawa’s nick-name “the Emperor.”  Although the studio protested the increased production costs, Kurosawa was adamant that “the quality of the set influences the quality of the actors’ performances… …For this reason, I have the sets made exactly like the real thing.  It restricts the shooting but encourages that feeling of authenticity.”

 

Boy he was right.  Anyone who thinks of themselves as any sort of film buff Seven Samurai is a must see.  And if you just like movies, watch it anyways, it’s long but worth every minute of it.

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2015 in Movie Reviews

 
 
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