Night Moves (1975) — In the 1970s, if a movie called for an antihero who also happened to be a private eye or cop — it’s a safe bet that Gene Hackman may have played the role. That’s not a criticism, simply an observation. There’s a reason for this. From everything I’ve observed the man could do no wrong when it came to playing gritty loners with questionable morals who take their jobs far too seriously. In Night Moves, directed by Arthur Penn (Bonnie and Clyde) — which only sounds like the title of bad Skinemax movie — Hackman brings subtlety and nuance to a character who is way too intriguing to be trapped inside a convoluted plot. This movie, in particular, I think would make an excellent companion piece to The Conversation. Both films share a similar theme with Hackman playing a private eye who winds up getting overly-involved with his cases, ultimately resulting in adverse consequences. In Night Moves, Hackman — in a BAFTA-nominated turn — plays Harry Moseby, an ex-football player turned private detective hired to find a missing girl. In the end, the case winds up being considerably more complicated than Moseby had expected. The story is so complicated that I had little idea what was going on by the end of the movie. After doing some research, I was glad to find out that I wasn’t the only one with this problem. In Night Moves, Moseby obsesses over work in order to avoid dealing with the rest of his life — especially his failing marriage. Just forget about the plot. See this for Hackman’s performance, first and foremost. In addition to Gener, this film features James Woods as well as a teenage Melanie Griffith in her debut role (Full frontal nudity from Ms. Griffith, to boot, although may have been a body double. Sigh. Remember when Melanie Griffith was cute before turning into a scary Botox beast?) Night Moves is available through Netflix instant watch — so, if you’re interested in seeing it, you have no excuse not to. Unless you don’t have Netflix, in which case I advise you to sign up for a membership ya cheap bastard. (Add this to my queue!)
7 Dwarves, Men Alone in the Woods 7 Zwerge, Männer allein im Wald (2004) — If you’re living under the delusion that just because a movie is subtitled that it is in some way intelligent — and I hope to god if you’re reading this, you’re not that naive — let me help you get away from this way of thinking by presenting to you 7 Dwarves, Men Alone in the Woods. The title is way too easy of a target for mockery, so I’ll refrain from going for the obvious joke. As it was described to me, I thought 7 Dwarves had an interesting enough plot — interesting enough that I decided to add it to my Netflix instant queue. I quote: “Based loosely on the well-known fairy tale “Snow White,” this bold adaption from director Sven Unterwaldt finds the seven dwarfs living — by choice — in a forest free of females.” I guess it was the word “bold” that hooked me. In my experience, “bold” adaptions of fairy tales typically involve lots of nudity and liberal amounts of singing and dancing, as is the case with 1977’s Cinderella, an Italian soft-core porno/musical (One of these days I’ll get around to talking about that one. Today is not that day.) In this case, bold means lots of throwaway jokes about tits and boners. That would be fine and dandy if, first, this was not advertised as a “family” movie — and second, if the producers of this film went all the way with the dirty stuff rather than just wink-wink/nudge-nudged their way through it like a 11-year-old sneaking a peek at a Victoria’s Secret catalog. I don’t know who Sven Unterwaldt is, but he’s probably the German version of Roberto Benigni. If I ever meet him, I’ll ask him whether Rob Schneider receives royalties for adapting his brand of poo-poo humor for German audiences. There’s a word for this type of movie. It’s a German word and starts with “S.” If you’ve ever seen any World War II movies, it’s usually is uttered by a Nazi soldier right after they realize they’ve stepped on a landmine. That’s what this movie is. The only good thing about this movie is that the Snow White character is kind of hot. The bad news is she’s probably into scat play. This movie was the second highest grossing film in Germany in 2004, according to Wikipedia. It’s the 4th most successful German movie of all time. That’s good, because it was funded through a government film trust paid for with public tax dollars. Why this last point has not resulted in riots from Hamburg to Berlin means Germans have really bad taste. But that should be obvious by now. (I’m a masochist! Add this to my queue!)
Anvil! The Story of Anvil (2008) — I was never a big metal fan growing up — my music tastes ran the gamut from indie rock to Duran Duran — so when VH1 first started running ads for Anvil! The Story of Anvil, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I had never heard of Anvil the band so I mistook Anvil the movie for a mockumentary. I wasn’t the only one. Anvil’s peers on the speed metal scene — Megadeth, Slayer and especially Metallica — are recognizable names for even the most casual music fans. Even if you’re not familiar with the music, I’m sure you’ve seen the bands logo carved into a school desk at some point in your life. Anvil put out what — according to the documentary — most metal fans consider a landmark album in Metal on Metal in 1982. Then, through the 80s and 90s, they continued touring and recording while their big break eluded them — the closest they came to a breakthrough was having one of their songs included on the soundtrack to the horror film Sleepaway Camp 2. Anvil! – The Story of Anvil begins in 2005 (or 2006. I’m not quite sure and Wikipedia was no help here.) While the band has gone through a few line-up changes over the past 25 years, core members Steve “Lips” Ludlow (vocals, guitar) and Robb Reiner (drums) have remained a constant. Now, the two longtime friends are determined to give the band one last shot with a European tour and a new album. Can Anvil rise above obscurity and make it in a modern music business which — let’s be honest — really has no interest in classic metal? That’s the plot of Anvil! The Story of Anvil in a nutshell. Don’t believe the reviews that tell you Anvil! – The Story of Anvil isn’t really about metal music. It most certainly is about metal music. It’s also about friendship, love of music and the struggle of the underdog. But it’s also about heavy metal music and I’m sure a metal fan will get more out of this movie than others, just like a professional wrestling fan will get more out of Barry Blaustein’s 1999 documentary Beyond the Mat than a non-wrestling fan. It’s not This is Spinal Tap either, despite a few Spinal Tap moments thanks to the scatterbrained woman who arranges their European tour. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still plenty in Anvil! The Story of Anvil for a non-metal fan to enjoy. Ludlow is a sympathetic enough figure. At the start of the film, he’s making a living delivering school lunches. My main complaint about the movie is, when it’s over, and Anvil has made it through their European tour and brought back their original producer and recorded their new album — spoiler alert — the movie just ends. Now, I know that — thanks to the film — Anvil has probably gotten the most attention of their entire career. But what does that make the movie? The cynical side of me could argue that Anvil! The Story of Anvil was just an hour-and-one-half long commercial for Anvil the band. After 7 Dwarves, however, I’m all out of pessimism for the day. So I’ll just say that Anvil! The Story of Anvil was entertaining. It was not the movie of the year. It probably wasn’t even the best documentary of the year. But I liked it.