Criterion Year Week 48: Five Easy Pieces

• September 18th, 2016

The Criterion Collection, the last vestige of truly collectible DVD and Blu-Ray movies in existence. These are well produced, fancy pants editions of important and interesting films for the discerning film lover.

We continue our journey through Jim's collection of movies with...

Five Easy Pieces

Spine Number: 546

Director: Bob Rafelson

Genre: Drama


It's hard to imagine, but there was a time when Jack Nicholson was just an actor. Sure, he's still an actor, but he isn't just an actor. I mean, can a man who has been nominated for 12 Oscars, 17 Golden Globes, 7 BAFTAs, and basically every other award you can imagine, and who has won 3 Oscars, 6 Golden Globes (as well as the C. B. Demille Lifetime achievement award), be called just an actor.

Yes, he is an actor. But he's more of a movie star, icon, and general embodiment of Hollywood royalty at this point.

But there was a time...

After spending years as a supporting actor he finally broke through with his first Oscar nomination for his role in "Easy Rider," which led to "Five Easy Pieces," which was, incidentally, his second Oscar nomination. From there he instantly became a Hollywood institution, an awards show mainstay, and the subject of more horrible impressions than Christopher Walken.


But really, it all started here.



This is the kind of movie Hollywood just doesn't make any more. It's a low budget drama about an emotional train wreck of a man. There is no happy ending, there isn't really even a hero, it's just the story of a man running away from everything, all the time. A man outrunning everything but himself, who is determined to pull people in, just so he can push them away.

Because Jack has become JACK, it's easy to forget how incredible an actor he is. This may or may not be him at his best, but this performance definitely falls in his top five.

So, if you haven't seen it, check it out. If you have, take a listen and see what we think about it.


Next week we begin a run of movies that Clarkson will be seeing for the first time ever with...

Spine number 555: The Sweet Smell of Success

Also, check this out.

The Life Masters is now it's own show with its own site and own dedicated feed. That's right, we have two completely different shows!

Right now check it out at www.thelifemasters.podbean.com.

You can also drink in our brilliance on Youtube for both The Film Thugs and The Life Masters.

http://fantasymovieleague.com/

Looks like Summer Movie League has officially become Fantasy Movie League.

It looks quite fun. Here's how it works.

You have an 8 screen theater.

Every week you pick movies and have a budget/salary cap you have to stay under.

Then you compete against other theaters in your league.

It's fantasy football for movie people.

Our league is Film Thugs 2015 and the password is Porterhouse.

And remember, you can be a part of the show any time you wild like. How's that? All you have to do is call or e-mail us. If you live in the US, or any place that makes calling the US easy, just dial 512-666-RANT and leave us a voicemail. We will read the Google Voice transcript and play your message. It's both funny AND informative.

If you live outside the US you can call us on Skype at The_Film_Thugs. You can leave a message, or someone might actually answer.

E-mail us at thefilmthugs@gmail.com and we will read/play whatever you send us, or you can e-mail thugquestions@gmail.com to be part of  an upcoming "Ask the Film Thugs" show, where we answer questions on any subject without having heard them first.

Also, we are on twitter @thefilmthugs and on Facebook and Vine.

Also, be sure to check back often for our new endeavor The Life Masters, where we answer questions to other advice columnists.

Thanks for listening, and until next week...

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Criterion Year Week 47: Paths of Glory

• September 11th, 2016

The Criterion Collection, the last vestige of truly collectible DVD and Blu-Ray movies in existence. These are well produced, fancy pants editions of important and interesting films for the discerning film lover.

We continue our journey through Jim's collection of movies with...

Paths of Glory

Spine Number: 538

Director: Stanley Kubrick

Genre: Drama

Stanley Kubrick lives in some rarefied air. Few filmmakers have ever been so fully embraced as complete masters in the way he has. His following is so devout that everything he does is hailed as a cinematic achievement. For good reason. He was uncompromising, honest, and had both an eye for visuals and an ear for story that most people would kill to have. He is a director whose very name invites hyperbole.

Mention Kubrick and most people immediately go to "The Shining," or "2001," or "The Clockwork Orange," or "Dr. Strangelove," or "Full Metal Jacket." That's fine. Each of those films deserve every bit of recognition they deserve.

However, we are both of the opinion that his finest work is his most overlooked. Two films in particular. The first is "The Killing," which we will be examining in a few weeks. The second is "Paths of Glory."

PathsOfGlory2.jpg

When it comes to anti-war films and Kubrick most people immediately go with "Full Metal Jacket," and with good reason. That is an amazing film with an incredible message.

However... "Paths of Glory,"... I don't even know where to begin. This lean, brutal film about the horror of World War I and the absolute disconnect between the reality and the politics of war is one of the most profoundly moving and powerful statements on the nature of war as a human endeavor.

World War I was more than warfare on a global scale. It represented the destruction of the old European social structure and the birth of a new, more complicated one, and the effects of this devastating conflict are still being felt today.

However, this film goes beyond that. Any good social commentary is applicable beyond the narrow set of circumstances it presents. "Paths of Glory," presents the harrowing brutality of war, but it also shows the disconnect between politics, power, and the people who actually have to work to get the job done. It highlights the risks that those on the front line endure on a daily basis, and the complete removal from that reality enjoyed by those who make the decisions. It is as relevant to any institution, be it a school or a bank or a job selling computers, as it is to the battlefield. Those who make the decisions are spared the consequences of those decisions.

This is a truly amazing film, and even if you don't listen to us ramble on about it we cannot recommend it highly enough. So check it out, and then spend some time talking about it with us.

PathsOfGlory1.jpg

Next week we begin a run of movies that Clarkson will be seeing for the first time ever with...

Spine number 546: Five Easy Pieces

Also, check this out.

The Life Masters is now it's own show with its own site and own dedicated feed. That's right, we have two completely different shows!

Right now check it out at www.thelifemasters.podbean.com.

You can also drink in our brilliance on Youtube for both The Film Thugs and The Life Masters.

http://fantasymovieleague.com/

Looks like Summer Movie League has officially become Fantasy Movie League.

It looks quite fun. Here's how it works.

You have an 8 screen theater.

Every week you pick movies and have a budget/salary cap you have to stay under.

Then you compete against other theaters in your league.

It's fantasy football for movie people.

Our league is Film Thugs 2015 and the password is Porterhouse.

And remember, you can be a part of the show any time you wild like. How's that? All you have to do is call or e-mail us. If you live in the US, or any place that makes calling the US easy, just dial 512-666-RANT and leave us a voicemail. We will read the Google Voice transcript and play your message. It's both funny AND informative.

If you live outside the US you can call us on Skype at The_Film_Thugs. You can leave a message, or someone might actually answer.

E-mail us at thefilmthugs@gmail.com and we will read/play whatever you send us, or you can e-mail thugquestions@gmail.com to be part of  an upcoming "Ask the Film Thugs" show, where we answer questions on any subject without having heard them first.

Also, we are on twitter @thefilmthugs and on Facebook and Vine.

Also, be sure to check back often for our new endeavor The Life Masters, where we answer questions to other advice columnists.

Thanks for listening, and until next week...

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Criterion Year Week 46: The Friends of Eddie Coyle

• August 28th, 2016

The Criterion Collection, the last vestige of truly collectible DVD and Blu-Ray movies in existence. These are well produced, fancy pants editions of important and interesting films for the discerning film lover.

We continue our journey through Jim's collection of movies with...

The Friends of Eddie Coyle

Spine Number: 475

Director: Peter Yates

Genre: Crime Drama

There has always been a romanticism to gangsters in movies. It's understandable, at least on the surface. Think about it. Outlaws who live by their own rules taking chances and living outside the drudgery of our nine to five lives. They live on their own terms and have a code of honor that they all abide.

"The Friends of Eddie Coyle," however, takes a different view point. While gangster movies run the gamut from the gorgeous, like "The Godfather," to the more average, like "Goodfellas," and "The Departed," to the rough, street level life of a criminal, like "Donnie Brasco," and "Mean Streets," no other movie captures the reality of life as a low rent thief like "The Friends of Eddie Coyle."

EddieCoyle1.jpg

For starters, "low rent," is an understatement. The crooks in this movie are so low level that they might as well be driving a bus. Everything is so dated that this movie couldn't possible be set in any other year. Not that it was cheap, but the people in it are not wealthy. They aren't even well off. They are lower middle, to upper lower class. There is nothing even approaching the neighborhood of glamorous in this movie. But that's what makes it so great.

Well... that's one of the things that makes it so great.

What's the other thing?

Robert.

Goddamned.

Mitchum.

As Peter Boyle said, "You know what the '2001' theme is? That's the sound of Mitchum waking up."

Simply put, Robert Mitchum is an absolute BEAST in this movie. And that is saying a lot, given that Eddie Coyle is the farthest thing from a beast that you will find. He is essentially a middle man for a gun runner. He buys guns from one guy who knows people who can get guns and sells them to other guys who rob banks. That's it. He's facing two years in prison for transporting stolen merchandise and is trying make a deal to avoid those years, and trying to make enough money for his family in case he can't avoid them.

Simply put, Coyle isn't the guy, or the guy who knows the guy, or even the guy who knows the guy who knows the guy. He's the guy who goes to a bar where a guy who knows the guys works. That is this movies blessing and curse. It is a fantastic portrayal of the day to day grind of the lowest rung on the criminal ladder. It's a movie about where most of us would be if we were criminals. It's gritty, dirty, and almost a documentary on how UN-glamorous a life of crime would really be.

In short, it kills the illusion.

However, we cannot say this enough... The Friends of Eddie Coyle is an amazing film and is worth it for Robert Mitchum alone.

So, check it out and see if you agree with us.

EddieCoyle2.jpg

Next Week:

Spine number 538: Paths of Glory

Also, check this out.

The Life Masters is now it's own show with its own site and own dedicated feed. That's right, we have two completely different shows!

Right now check it out at www.thelifemasters.podbean.com.

You can also drink in our brilliance on Youtube for both The Film Thugs and The Life Masters.

http://fantasymovieleague.com/

Looks like Summer Movie League has officially become Fantasy Movie League.

It looks quite fun. Here's how it works.

You have an 8 screen theater.

Every week you pick movies and have a budget/salary cap you have to stay under.

Then you compete against other theaters in your league.

It's fantasy football for movie people.

Our league is Film Thugs 2015 and the password is Porterhouse.

And remember, you can be a part of the show any time you wild like. How's that? All you have to do is call or e-mail us. If you live in the US, or any place that makes calling the US easy, just dial 512-666-RANT and leave us a voicemail. We will read the Google Voice transcript and play your message. It's both funny AND informative.

If you live outside the US you can call us on Skype at The_Film_Thugs. You can leave a message, or someone might actually answer.

E-mail us at thefilmthugs@gmail.com and we will read/play whatever you send us, or you can e-mail thugquestions@gmail.com to be part of  an upcoming "Ask the Film Thugs" show, where we answer questions on any subject without having heard them first.

Also, we are on twitter @thefilmthugs and on Facebook and Vine.

Also, be sure to check back often for our new endeavor The Life Masters, where we answer questions to other advice columnists.

Thanks for listening, and until next week...

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Criterion Year Week 45: Bottle Rocket

• August 14th, 2016

The Criterion Collection, the last vestige of truly collectible DVD and Blu-Ray movies in existence. These are well produced, fancy pants editions of important and interesting films for the discerning film lover.

We continue our journey through Jim's collection of movies with...

Bottle Rocket

Spine Number: 450

Director: Wes Anderson

Genre: Comedy

During the 90's independent film really exploded. Well, kind of. You see, "independent," although very specific in meaning (we go with the John Cassavetes definition which means made without studio backing) came to mean something very different. "Independent' became more of a buzzword that meant "low budget" and major studios opened "independent brands," which were just arms of the larger group that would produce lower budget films. So, instead of true "independent" movies, we got films that were produced by studios, but that could claim status as independent. The studios also pretty much saw everything as being either Quentin Tarantino (edgy, cool, neo crime dramas with funny dialogue), or Kevin Smith (slacker comedy).

Bottle Rocket was as close to actual independent as you could get, and it had the added bonus of falling between the two accepted genres. It was a slacker crime comedy, so it seemed like a slam dunk.

Oh, also, it was Wes Anderson's first movie and he hatched, pretty much fully formed as a filmmaker.

BottleRocket1.jpg

We both have a somewhat challenging history with this movie. We both have always viewed it as having great characters, fantastic dialogue, and a horrible plot. Part of the reason for that was that it was pretty much advertised as a different movie.

... and the original posters didn't really help much.

BottleRocket3.jpg

BottleRocket4.jpg

It was pushed as more of a "hip comedy heist film" than what it was. So, when both of us originally saw it, what we got was so completely out of step with what we were expecting that we felt profoundly disappointed. It was good, but it was not what was advertised.

So, we were left with some cool lines and great characters, but a movie that didn't really work for either of us.

Now, years later... well, our opinions have changed.

Now that we know what it isn't we are able to enjoy it for what it is. The whole "wanna be criminals" element is there, but it takes a backseat to a much more interesting story, the story of some guys who are trying to find some sort of place in the world. They are not so much slackers as they are young guys trying to find who they are and figure out their place. They want to be criminals, but only because it seems more interesting and exciting than any of their other choices.

If you haven't seen this yet, check it out. If you have, watch it again and join us as we discuss this incredible first feature.

BottleRocket2.jpg

Next Week:

Spine number 475: The Friends of Eddie Coyle

Also, check this out.

The Life Masters is now it's own show with its own site and own dedicated feed. That's right, we have two completely different shows!

Right now check it out at www.thelifemasters.podbean.com.

You can also drink in our brilliance on Youtube for both The Film Thugs and The Life Masters.

http://fantasymovieleague.com/

Looks like Summer Movie League has officially become Fantasy Movie League.

It looks quite fun. Here's how it works.

You have an 8 screen theater.

Every week you pick movies and have a budget/salary cap you have to stay under.

Then you compete against other theaters in your league.

It's fantasy football for movie people.

Our league is Film Thugs 2015 and the password is Porterhouse.

And remember, you can be a part of the show any time you wild like. How's that? All you have to do is call or e-mail us. If you live in the US, or any place that makes calling the US easy, just dial 512-666-RANT and leave us a voicemail. We will read the Google Voice transcript and play your message. It's both funny AND informative.

If you live outside the US you can call us on Skype at The_Film_Thugs. You can leave a message, or someone might actually answer.

E-mail us at thefilmthugs@gmail.com and we will read/play whatever you send us, or you can e-mail thugquestions@gmail.com to be part of  an upcoming "Ask the Film Thugs" show, where we answer questions on any subject without having heard them first.

Also, we are on twitter @thefilmthugs and on Facebook and Vine.

Also, be sure to check back often for our new endeavor The Life Masters, where we answer questions to other advice columnists.

Thanks for listening, and until next week...

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Criterion Year Week 44: Blast of Silence and a discussion about the lost beauty of the video store

• August 7th, 2016

The Criterion Collection, the last vestige of truly collectible DVD and Blu-Ray movies in existence. These are well produced, fancy pants editions of important and interesting films for the discerning film lover.

We continue our journey through Jim's collection of movies with...

Blast of Silence

Spine Number: 428

Director: Allen Baron

Genre: Drama

As the local video store has become a thing of the past there are certain experiences that have been lost to us. There was something about going to a local store that had a finite inventory that led to a type of adventuring that we don't really have anymore. You would go to your local store and there would be one or two movies that you would always gravitate towards but never rent. Your guy or gal, you always had one, would learn what you liked and help you discover new and interesting things that you never thought of watching before. If you were like us, you had several video stores and a legion of employees who knew what you liked and would hook you up with stuff. There was something about the title or the artwork that just struck a chord, but for some reason you would never take the plunge. Then, one night you wouldn't see anything that looked good, and finally decide to give this mystery box a try. Often times the results were predictably disappointing. The title or box art wrote a check that the movie just couldn't cash.

But....

There were the times when the movie would be so outrageous, so ridiculous, so great, or so unexpected that you kicked yourself for not watching it sooner.

In that spirit, we give you Blast of Silence.

BlastofSilence.jpg

This is a lean, mean, and to the point noir-esque gem that not enough people know about, but those who do... those who do are part of a special group. To give you an idea, a few years back The Academy (yes, that Academy) invited Patton Oswalt to a special screening for a new series they were doing. They allowed him to pick any film he wanted. He chose this. Look up what he's said about it and be amazed at this guys writing ability.

What he wrote and said about this film inspired me to get it. I'd seen it, loved the title, and been intrigued by the cover, but this was my strange little video store gem that I just never pulled the trigger on. Man, I wish I had done so earlier.

There is not an ounce of fat on this thing. It's a simple, direct story of a hit man coming to town to execute a contract, but his past gets in the way. From the opening narration to the closing image this movie is perfectly balanced. It's rough and simple, but when you execute this well there is no need to get fancy.

So join us as we take a look at a criminally overlooked movie and lament the bygone days of the local video store.

BlastofSilence2.jpg

Next Week:

Spine number 450: Bottle Rocket

Also, check this out.

The Life Masters is now it's own show with its own site and own dedicated feed. That's right, we have two completely different shows!

Right now check it out at www.thelifemasters.podbean.com.

You can also drink in our brilliance on Youtube for both The Film Thugs and The Life Masters.

http://fantasymovieleague.com/

Looks like Summer Movie League has officially become Fantasy Movie League.

It looks quite fun. Here's how it works.

You have an 8 screen theater.

Every week you pick movies and have a budget/salary cap you have to stay under.

Then you compete against other theaters in your league.

It's fantasy football for movie people.

Our league is Film Thugs 2015 and the password is Porterhouse.

And remember, you can be a part of the show any time you wild like. How's that? All you have to do is call or e-mail us. If you live in the US, or any place that makes calling the US easy, just dial 512-666-RANT and leave us a voicemail. We will read the Google Voice transcript and play your message. It's both funny AND informative.

If you live outside the US you can call us on Skype at The_Film_Thugs. You can leave a message, or someone might actually answer.

E-mail us at thefilmthugs@gmail.com and we will read/play whatever you send us, or you can e-mail thugquestions@gmail.com to be part of  an upcoming "Ask the Film Thugs" show, where we answer questions on any subject without having heard them first.

Also, we are on twitter @thefilmthugs and on Facebook and Vine.

Also, be sure to check back often for our new endeavor The Life Masters, where we answer questions to other advice columnists.

Thanks for listening, and until next week...

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